Whether you’re brand new to sewing or whether it’s been a number of years since you bought your last sewing machine and you’re wondering how the market has changed, it’s pretty important to know about the different types of machines available so that you can make the right choice for your needs.
There are many different types of sewing machines for sale these days, all of which have their own strengths and downfalls. Whether you’re planning on using your machine to learn the basics of sewing, whether you’re thinking of taking up quilting, or whether you’re planning on making professional quality clothes for all the family, you will need a model which is up to the task in hand.
The world of machine sewing has moved on apace over the last few decades, and now there are more options to choose from than ever before. While this makes life more exciting and convenient, it can also make choosing between the different machines a lot more difficult.
To try to resolve the problem, we take a look here at some of the different types of sewing machine on the market and the differences between them that set them apart from the others so you can make an informed purchasing decision.
In this Guide
Electronic Sewing Machines
Whereas in the past the most common type of sewing machine was the manual model which was operated without the need for an electrical connection, these days they are virtually obsolete. Instead, electronic sewing machines have taken over as the main model on the market. Electronic machines use one motor to power the needle electronically. All that is required of the user is to put varying amounts of pressure onto the foot pedal in order to control the machine’s speed while using both hands to guide the material through the machine.
Usually, an electronic machine features a dial on its side which controls the stitch length and type. Some machines also feature an automatic setting for tension, an auto thread cutter and different buttonhole stitch options. Electronic sewing machines are ideal for use on all different kinds of projects and suit a wide variety of sewing needs since they can be used with different kinds of fabric and offer many different stitch patterns and functions.
Computerized Sewing Machines
A computerized sewing machine allows the user to tailor the function to meet their individual sewing needs. Rather than having buttons and dials, this advanced type of machine features an LCD or LED display or touch screen. Basic models are able to memorize the most commonly used stitches and set the tension automatically, while advanced models are able to be programmed to sew even complex embroidery patterns. The best models allow you to create your own design on your computer and then upload it to the machine via a USB port. Some models are even able to download designs from online for use later. While computerized machines are more expensive, they are extremely versatile and quick, giving you a wider scope of projects to choose from and ensuring they are completed more quickly. They are an ideal choice for advanced sewers or for someone who wants to take their experience to the next level.
Sometimes known as a serger, an overlocker sewing machine is used for professionally finishing seams and hems. It is an especially useful machine to buy if you sew a lot and if you enjoy making garments. Although these types of machine have less functionality than a regular electronic sewing machine, they do have the capacity to neaten, stitch and trim excess fabric away at double the speed of a standard model.
Overlocking machines function in a different way to an ordinary sewing machine since they have between two and nine threads and use several needles to make overcast stitches while they trim away excess fabric. Overlockers are especially useful when it comes to hemming and making curtains and they are also very good when it comes to sewing knitted fabric. It is important to be aware, however, that an overlocker doesn’t replace a standard sewing machine, instead it should be an extra model to complement your existing machine. They are ideal for a simple project, but they can’t do more complex tasks like sewing button holes or zips.
If you’re interested in getting started with quilting, or if you’re already well experienced in the art of quilt making but need a new machine, a quilting sewing machine is the ideal solution. While it’s possible to use a regular sewing machine to make quilts, it can be very difficult to handle the larger fabrics necessary for this sort of project with a regular sewing machine. Supporting this popular craft, a specialist quilting machine makes blocks which measure 4” to 6” along their side.
With attachable or built-in walking feet, the fabric won’t shift with a quilting machine and long arm models are available which can accommodate pieces which measure as much as 18” along a side. Long arm quilting tables measure up to 14 feet in width so making large quilts is a breeze. These machines allow for longer stitches and larger patterns and they operate by leaving the fabric in one place while the machine moves instead.
Quilting machines offer a great range of stitch types so that you can make interesting patterns on your quilts and follow a range of exciting designs. Some of the most advanced machines are even able to copy the same style as hand stitching to create a lovely hand-finished look.
Whatever type of sewing projects you are interested in, there’s sure to be a sewing machine on the market that suits your needs. Whether you’re looking for the versatility of a computerized model, the simplicity of a basic electronic machine, the specialist skills of an overlocker or even the capacity to handle large projects like quilts, you are certain to find the ideal model to accommodate your projects easily.
Find our picks in all these categories, along with practical buying advice to help you make your decision, on our homepage!