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Residential VS Industrial Sewing Machines: What is the Difference?

residential vs industrial sewing machines

Sewing machines that are labeled “residential”, “personal”, “home”, or “domestic” all refer to machines that were designed for use at home. “Commercial”, “industrial”, or “professional” machines are those that are made for more frequent use like you would need in any type of sewing business. Originally, the distinction between residential vs industrial sewing machines was that of one them was used by housewives to make the family’s clothes and the heavy duty machine that was used in manufacturing to produce garments or other sewn items all day long.

Not surprisingly, machines that are made to put in more hours during the day are stronger, more powerful, and typically more expensive than those made for personal use. There are also other differences that may determine which type of machine is the best one for your use.

Residential Industrial
Types of StitchesEven the simplest home sewing machine comes with several stitch options and many come with anywhere from 20 to 100 and more.An industrial machine is designed to perform a single stitch or function to place less wear on it.
Quality of SewingChanges in thread, material, or tension can result in low-quality stitches that require adjustment.Provides the highest quality of stitch.
Sewing SpeedMost have a similar maximum sewing speed that allows the sewer to go at a comfortable pace.Industrial machines are made to go at a faster speed to increase sewing production.
Maintenance RequirementsMost models require no maintenance and, unlike models of the past, have their own built-in oil system. When repairs are required, parts and service are usually easy to find, especially for top brands.Due to their industrial use and the volume of fabric fibers that goes through them, these machines must be constantly cleaned and oiled.
ThreadAll types and weights of thread can be used to sew different types and weights of fabrics.Heavier deniers of thread are often used to sew commercial products. These threads are sometimes a problem for the sewer when they hang up in the machine.
CostA good quality basic sewing machine will cost just over $100 with specialty machines and those with more features costing anywhere from under $200 to more than $600.Most good quality industrial sewing machines are more than $1,000.

Residential VS Industrial Sewing Machines: Which One is Right for You?

Often, sewers who are asking the question about the difference between these two types of machines are considering their investment for operating a small or home-based sewing business. Unless you plan to specialize in something like curtains that only require a single stitch, an industrial machine may not be the right choice for you. You may also require a standard sewing machine to do different stitches for whatever you want to sew.

Heavy Duty Sewing Machines

Industrial machines are almost made of solid metal while residential machines are made largely of plastic. Most of the top brands have “heavy duty” sewing machines available that are made with more metal than other residential machines and many of them have more powerful motors. These machines combine some of the best features of residential and industrial machines and often provide a happy medium for those who need both flexibility and durability in the machine they buy. For some, it will make the difference in having to buy more than one machine to get everything you need.

Singer SE300 Legacy Sewing Machine Review

The Singer SE 300 Legacy is a stylish new sewing and embroidery machine that represents a new era in sewing machines. The new design includes a wide range of stitches and other features so that the sewer always has the choices they need to create the perfect project design. Ease of use and versatility combine to make the Singer Legacy a good choice for sewers who are branching out into embroidery for the first time as well as those who have various degrees of sewing and embroidery experience.

Singer SE300 Legacy

Features

Built-In Stitches

The Singer sewing machine boasts an impressive 250 built-in stitches that give sewers more choices for every type of projects they do. Of these, there are 10 OneTouch basic stitches, 8 basic stitches, and 7 stretch stitches that make it easy for beginners to learn and excel at their craft. The stitches also include 14 fully automatic buttonholes, 23 elongation stitches, 30 heirloom stitches, 18 satin stitches, and 22 quilting stitches for those with more experience who want to venture out into new, more creative areas of sewing.

High-Speed Sewing and Embroidery

Even the most advanced sewers can be brought to a halt with a sewing machine that doesn’t work quickly enough. The SE300 sews regular stitches at 800 stitches per minute and embroiders at 700 stitches per minute for fast efficient completion of every project.

Singer SE300 Legacy
LCD TouchScreen

Setting the machine to embroider or sew in the stitch of choice is fast and easy with the generous LCD touchscreen. This feature saves time by allowing you to go back and forth between stitch sizes or styles with by touching the screen.

Downloadable, Updatable Software

Complimentary software is available to add even more options to the creative stitch designs. The software can be easily updated online so the sewing machine continues to grow with the seamstress.

Extra-Large Embroidery Area

The generous 10-1/4” x 6” hoop allows more room for creating larger-than-average embroidery designs. There is also a 7-7/8” work area with a wider needle-to-tower area for easier maneuvering of larger projects.

Bobbin Winding while Embroidering

This feature prevents the user from stopping to rewind when the bobbin unexpectedly runs out of thread. The machine automatically takes care of the problem without the need to stop to rewind and then start over.

Simple Thread Features

The Singer Legacy is equipped with automated adjustable thread tension, a built-in needle threader, and thread cutter so that managing thread while sewing takes little more than a thought. There is also an upper thread sensor that signals when the thread is getting low.

Multiple Embroidery Designs

The Singer SE300 includes an impressive 200 embroidery designs and 6 alphabet options that allow the sewer to turn any project into a canvas for their artwork and add personalization.

Singer SE300 Legacy
Staybright™ LED Lights

View every stitch in perfect detail with the 3 LED light system to illuminate the entire project.

USB Stick Embroidery Design Transfer

The included USB stick allows users to save designs from their computer and transfer to the sewing machine. Save favorites for re-use later on.

Accessories

The Singer Legacy comes with a large 10-1/4” x 6” and small 4” x 4” snap-on embroidery hoops, ten snap-on presser feet including a buttonhole foot with underplate, a quilting bar, thread spool net, spool pin felt, thread spool caps, auxiliary spool pin, screwdrivers, lint brush, bobbins, needles, and USB embroidery stick.

Pros

The Singer Legacy is highly versatile as a sewing machine, embroidery machine, and for adding monograms. It is easy to operate and gives the buyer the option to add even more designs by downloading from online. The built-in stitches are marked on the top cover for easy selection.

Cons

Some buyers thought the initial set-up of the machine was a little confusing but those who referred to the included Instruction Manual found the answers they needed to get started.

Customer Reviews

The Singer SE 300 is fast and easy to use without the need for classes or instructional videos. Most buyers felt that the machine performed exceptionally well and that the Singer Legacy offers a good value for the price.

Price

Most places where the Singer Legacy is offered for sale have the machine priced between $1,200 and $1,600 but buyers can find the best prices at Amazon.

Singer 7258 Stylist Sewing Machine Review

Singer 7258 Stylist

The Singer 7258 Stylist comes with a host of features that makes it ideal for beginners and intermediate sewers who enjoy fashion sewing, quilting, home sewing, and more. The machine has been the winner of the Consumers Digest Award twice based on characteristics including performance, ease of use, and more. The Singer Stylist has a number of automated features that make it easy to sew with perfect tension and stitches for every type of project.

Features

100 Built-In Stitches

The Stylist has an impressive 100 built-in stitches to use for a variety of sewing projects. There are 9 basic stitches and 8 stretch stitches for sewing woven and stretch fabrics. The machine includes 6 1-step buttonholes for the perfect finish to any fashion sewing. Use the push-button stitch selection to choose the right stitch and get the optimum settings for length, width, and tension automatically. The variety of stitches and automated features allow sewers to create a variety of projects including fashions for the entire family, quilting, crafts, decorative or heirloom sewing.

Staybright™ LED Light

The LED technology behind the Staybright light offers excellent viewing in any setting.

Automatic Tension

Even a minor mistake in the tension setting can lead to tangled thread or skipped stitches. The automatic tension resolves any tensions for the sewer so stitch quality is achieved and maintained from one sewing project to the next.

Top Loading Bobbin System

The bobbin system implements a magnetic vertical axis rotating hook that operates quietly and resists thread jams. The clear bobbin cover allows monitoring of the bobbin thread to prevent running out mid-seam.

Automated Bobbin Features

The automatic bobbin winding clutch needle bar automatically disengages to prevent the needle from moving for improved safety when winding the bobbin. The bobbin winder stop automatically stops turning once the bobbin is filled.

Automatic Locking Straight Stitch Function

The push of a button allows the seamstress to tie-off each end of a straight stitch to reinforce stitching and keep it from unraveling. There is also a tacking stitch feature for auto-tying decorative stitches at the end of a stitch sequence.

Adjustable Width Stitching

Most stitches can be adjusted up to 6mm in width to create more attractive satin and decorative stitches. Give applique a bolder, more pronounced edge.

6-Second Threading

Threading the machine is no longer the biggest challenge to sewing! Thread the Singer Stylist in just 6 seconds by following the arrow diagrams and get started sewing in no time.

Automatic Needle Threader

The automatic needle threader is sewing’s biggest timesaver!

Audible Tone

The audible tone ensures sewers always have the right settings for the project. If they don’t, the machine sounds an audible tone to let them know they need to make an adjustment.

Twin Needle Capability

Using a twin needle is easy on the Singer 7258. Adjust selected stitches by reducing the stitch width. The machine also has 13 needle positions that can be changed for different projects such as inserting zippers or topstitching. When using the center zigzag stitch to taper, the stitch tapers to the center for a more attractive appearance when tapering into or out of a point.

Extra-High Presser Foot Lifter

Choose from two presser foot heights for sewing fabrics of normal thickness or those that are bulkier or have multiple layers like a quilt.

6-Segment Feeding System

The specially designed feed dog efficiently picks up the fabric and provides it with support from the time it enters the front of the presser foot until it leaves the rear. This provides more accurate feeding of the fabric for a better quality of stitching.

Accessories

The machine comes with ten snap-on presser feet, including all-purpose, zipper, buttonhole, blind hem, satin stitch, overcasting, darning and embroidery, gathering, rolled hem, and quarter inch foot for quilting. Also included are a pack of needles, bobbins, thread spool caps, spool pin felt, auxiliary spool pin, darning plate, seam ripper, lint brush, needle plate screwdriver, soft-sided dust cover, 69-inch power cord, foot pedal, instruction manual, and a machine intro DVD. On-board storage keeps accessories close where they are always handy when needed.

Pros

The Singer 7258 is a versatile machine that has a number of automated features that make it user-friendly. The programmable needle up/down makes quilting and applique easier while the start/stop button & speed control put the sewing speed of up to 750 stitches-per-minute into the sewers hands. The automatic reverse button lets them transition to sewing in reverse quickly and easily.

The amount of pressure on the presser foot is automatically determined by the machine, along with the right stitch length and width. The machine even features optimum power control that compensates with more power when the job is more challenging. All of these features are packed into a machine with a rigid internal aluminum skeleton that holds all of the mechanisms in perfect alignment.

Cons

Some buyers have had problems with the bobbin winding features and with thread jamming in the bobbin. Those who took the time to watch the companion DVD included with the sewing machine before operating found that the features were easy to use and had no problems with these issues. As with any sewing machine, learning how the features work is the only way to get the best performance.

Customer Reviews

The majority of consumers who purchased the Singer Stylist felt that it was a great value and that it includes many of the same features in high-end machines that cost much more. The machine has all the basics and is easy enough to use for a beginner while offering the features that make more advanced sewing easier as well. The criteria used on which the machine was given the Consumers Digest award included: Performances, features, warranty, ease of use, quality of construction, efficiency, styling, and maintenance and service requirements.

Price

The Singer 7258 Stylist sewing machine usually sells for about $160, but buyers can find the best prices at Amazon.

How to Create a Professional Quality Sewing Workroom at Home

No seamstress starts a project with the hopes that it will turn out “alright.” You want your efforts to look professional so you can make an impression with your sewing skills and creativity. Starting every project with a well-organized and adequately stocked sewing workroom will go a long way in helping you achieve this goal.

The best way to create a professional quality sewing workroom is to have an entire room dedicated to your craft and not just an “area” where things can get mixed up or lost in the shuffle. If you have no other resort than to use the home office or the family den, at least divide the room into half so that you have a designated workspace to call your own. If you really want to get serious about your craft, it may be time to finally get that basement finished!

Choose Your Tools

Start with the Sewing Machine -

 A good quality sewing machine that has a good selection of stitches and a free arm is going to be at the heart of your sewing workroom. You can’t do anything without it. If you plan to sew all types of items and use different materials, you will want a machine that is as versatile as your agenda. To get the best quality results, it’s a good idea to stick with brand names like Brother, Bernina, Pfaff, Janome, Juki, and Singer.

Once you have the sewing machine, get a sturdy sewing machine stand that will keep your machine securely in place. One thing that many seamstresses overlook is the need for a good seat that allows them to work comfortably without straining their back. Invest in a good quality ergonomic chair that has adjustable height so you can create a custom fit. Adjust it so that you can rest your feet flat on the floor while keeping your work at elbow height.

The Right Size Sewing Table –

 There are two things you will need to consider when choosing a table: What you will be using it for and your height. If you are going to use your sewing room to make custom draperies or ball gowns, you will be cutting larger pieces of material and will need a larger table. On the other hand, if you are going to be working on kids’ clothes, you don’t need nearly as much space.

The ideal table will accommodate the fabric you will be cutting most often while not requiring you to lean across it. Like the sewing machine, try to keep the work area at wrist height. Getting the right height might be the most challenging part of the job. If all you can find is a table that is a little too short, you may be able to use wood blocks to raise it to the right level.

Scissors, Shears, and Other Cutting Instruments –

 If you have any sewing experience at all, you know the value of a good pair of scissors. What you may not know is that is a difference between scissors and shears. The latter are usually longer and have a small handle for the thumb and a larger handle for the other fingers for more comfortable cutting. Beyond this distinction, there are many different styles of scissors available for sewing today.

A good way to stock your workroom is to invest in a really good quality pair of shears for basic cutting of fabric and then supplement the collection with a pair of more affordable backup scissors and any specialty scissors that you might need for the types of sewing you do. Embroidery scissors, ergonomic and/or soft grip handles, and those designed for cutting through extra-thick fabrics are just some examples of what are available today.

Of course, there are electric scissors and some sewers swear by them, but the majority of users prefer the control and sharp cut they get with handheld scissors.

Basic Supplies –

Nothing is more important to producing quality work than having the right tools available when you need them. When your niece calls to have her hot pink prom dress hemmed the night before the event, you need every available minute to do the job! A trip to the fabric store to buy hot pink thread or the right needle for the delicate fabric will put a big wrench into getting the job done quickly and professionally.

Some of the basic supplies that you need to keep on-hand at all times include:

· Thread in a wide assortment of colors with extra black and white. Consider keeping clear acrylic thread on hand for those odd shades that really contrast with every shade you have.

· Extra Bobbins

· Seam Rippers

· Marking Pens and Chalk (I use plain children’s chalk in multi-colors because it is easy to see on any fabric and brushes off easily)

· Magnetic Pin Base with Long Sharp Pins

· Safety Pins

· Steam Iron and Ironing Pad (A full-sized ironing board is best if you have room)

· Yard Stick, 1-Foot Ruler, Tape Measures

· An Assortment of Machine Needle Types and Sizes and Hand Sewing Needles

· Black and White Interfacing

· Assortment of Buttons, Snaps, Zippers

· Adjustable Sewing Form

· Any Specialty Tools Needed for the Type of Sewing You Will Do!

Getting Organized –

Without having the organizational tools you need to keep everything in a designated area, you may as well end up running out and buying what you need every time you start a sewing project. Starting with the thread, everything needs to have a designated space where you can find it easily and your workroom will have a professional appearance instead of just looking like chaos.

A thread rack will keep thread organized and help prevent it from unraveling from the spool so there is less mess. If you end up with more spools that you have storage space, put those that you use less often into a basket or drawer after securing the ends with a piece of scotch tape.

A combination of shelving and drawers is best for separating notions of all sizes. You can use plastic storage units with drawers for an inexpensive fix or any type of cabinet that you can place smaller plastic bins in to keep clutter out-of-sight. The important thing is to create a system that will work for you.

Place your sewing books, pieces of fabric, rulers, and any other large items on your shelving to create a little decorative interest. You may also want to display one or two of your recent projects! Consider putting a pegboard up on the wall to hang items you use frequently like scissors and rulers so you always know where to find them.

Another idea for small work spaces is to put a shelf along the top of the wall to store books, magazines, or patterns that you won’t access as frequently to take up vertical space and save room for things you need more often closer to you and your machine.

Canisters, jars, and other decorative containers are good for storing small notions too. Just don’t mix things together thinking you will be able to “fish out” what you need later. Put buttons in one container, snaps in another, etc.

Look at the local discount store for clever storage items that will fit your needs. You may even have unused items at home that will work well with a little imagination. For example, an unused spice rack with jars is an ideal way to store buttons with each color stored separately. There is no better place to use your creativity than in the design of your sewing workroom.

Creating a professional quality sewing workroom isn’t about buying the most expensive furnishings and gadgets you can find. It’s about creating a well-stocked space that has everything organized to inspire you and put your skills to their best use.

How to Adjust a Sewing Pattern for the Best Fit

Just as all clothes you purchase in the store are not a perfect fit, sewing patterns also vary so that they need to be adjusted to get a good fit. There are multiple methods of fitting patterns from pinning the tissue pieces together to create a paper garment to making a sample garment out of a cheap fabric like muslin. Although either of these methods may be preferable to you, there is a simple way on how to adjust a sewing pattern that will take less of your time and give you just as accurate a fit.

Most advice on how to fit patterns often starts with taking your measurements and writing them down. It is nearly impossible to do this yourself and many people are uncomfortable asking someone else to take their measurements for them.

Although you might think a “custom fit” starts with matching the pattern to your measurements, this isn’t entirely true. Pattern pieces need to be cut with a certain amount of “ease” or extra room, requiring the best-fitting pieces to be a little bit larger than your actual measurements. Otherwise, the garment will be binding and won’t move with you.

The Garment-to-Garment Fitting Method

Most of us tend to tend towards similar styles in the clothes we wear in regards to style and the way they fit. That means that whatever you are preparing to make, you probably have something similar in your wardrobe. Select a similar garment that you can wear comfortably and that is made of a similar type of fabric. If you are happy with the way this garment fits, using it as a guide to fit your pattern should produce an equally well-fitting garment.

Select a garment that is as close to what you are making as possible. Regardless of the style, there will be several key areas that you will measure. For example, when making a pair of pants, you will need the waist and hip measurements, along with the lower waistband to inner inseam measurement in the front and back and the length from the outer lower waistband to the hem and the inside inseam to the hem. These measurements can differ according to the style of the pants and those without a waistband should be measured from the very top.

For a blouse or top, you will want to measure the bust, waist, shoulders, shoulder-to-hem, and underarm-to-hem. If the top has sleeves, you will also want to measure the length. Some new tops are made in tunic styles that come down over the hips. If that is the case, you will want to measure here, too. If you don’t have any tops this long, use your own measurement to make sure the pattern will fit here as well.

Get It Down on Paper

You don’t have to be a great artist to draw the pattern pieces but you can trace them from the sewing guide if needed. Leave enough room around the edges to place your written measurements.

Next, draw a line across the area that you will be measuring and place arrows at the ends of the lines to indicate which direction that measurement is for. For example, if you are measuring across the top of a piece of pants pattern, use ←------------------→ and place the measurement either at the end of one of the arrows or in the center of the line. Although the pants pattern will either be for the back or front and you will cut out two pieces of each, measure for a single piece as you did in your garment sample. Do not round off the measurements. If you add 1/8th of an inch to one pants piece, by the time you cut all four pieces, you will be adding ½” to the overall fit and that will sabotage your fitting efforts!

The seam allowance on most standard patterns is 5/8” unless otherwise noted. Since this is not usually marked on the pattern, you will have to keep the seam allowance in mind when measuring the pattern. The same is true for hems and do not include darts or pleats in your measurements.

Once you have all of your drawings completed, you can compare the drawings you made to determine what changes need to be made. In the example above, we can see we need to make the following changes:

-Reduce the back waist by ¼”

-Reduce the front waist by ¼”

-Reduce the back inseam by ¼”

-Reduce the front inseam by ¼”

-Increase the hem length by 1”

-Reduce the waistband by 1”

Place the pattern pieces on the fabric according to the pattern layout. Since the only increases you will be making are to the hem, the alterations you make to the pattern won’t interfere with the spacing of the pattern pieces on the fabric other than the bottom of the pants pattern. Allow for an extra inch of fabric at the hem.

With the pattern pieces firmly pinned to the fabric, use a sewing marker or chalk to outline the top of the pattern where the alterations will be made and several inches below. Unpin the top of the pattern and fold it over so it is out of your way. Measure and mark the outside seam at the waist ¼” inside the pattern line. Use a ruler to taper the line downward into the seamline. Do this for both the front and back pieces on the outside seam only.

Place the edge of the pattern on the newly marked line and pin in place. If there are darts or pockets, as in this pattern, shift them 1/4” towards the inner seam to keep them centered.

The same approach is used to reduce the inseam. The ¼” reduction is taken from the top and it will extend across the entire pattern piece. The dart will also need to be lowered by the same ¼” increment.

Adding to the measurement works in the same way as reducing does. For the added 1” to the hem, add the additional inch to the bottom of both pattern pieces and drop the hem line indicated on the pattern the same amount.

Finally, don’t forget to adjust the length of the waistband so that it fits the pants once the pieces are sewn together. This waistband is cut on the fold so you will need to reduce the length by ½” to get the 1” reduction. Adjust the line for the center waistline by the same amount.

When fitting a pattern for a top, there may be several more pieces to work with than with pants or skirts. If you are using a pattern that has front and/or back inserts, you will need to consider the seam allowance for each piece when taking your measurements.

Changing the size of the bodice will also require you to change the size of sleeves, collars and collar bands, facings, and interfacings. Start by fitting the bodice pieces and listing the changes you need to make to the pattern. Any change made to the bodice and/or the shoulder seam will have to be duplicated in the sleeves. Adjusting either of these seams will affect the size of the armhole. Try to avoid patterns that require adjustments of more than ¼” to prevent the need to alter the armhole significantly.

Changes to the shoulder seam or the front opening will change the fit of the collar and collar band if one is included in the style. Any piece that requires a facing or interfacing will also need to be adjusted for length or style changes that affect the area where they will be used.

A Possible Exception to the Rule

Sewing with stretch fabrics is more challenging when fitting a pattern because of the variations in stretch. Try to stick with similar fabrics until you have mastered the garment-to-garment fitting method and have a better handle on how to accommodate special needs.

Practice Makes Perfect

Everyone’s body is made a little different, making it more challenging to get a perfect fit from any pattern. Although you may not get perfect results the first time, after a few attempts you will be able to adjust any pattern to make it fit like the go-to pieces that you love to wear.

Tips and Techniques for Sewing Leather

Sewing Leather

Leather is a type of fabric that is always in style to some degree but it has been showing up in more fashions than ever before. The material that is most often seen to make outerwear is being combined with other types of fabric to make tops, bottoms, and dresses for all types of unique looks. Granted, sewing leather can be challenging but it is manageable if you know what to expect and how you can prevent making mistakes. When working with leather, you don’t get a second chance to get it right. Once the needle has gone through the fabric, the hole is there and there is no making it go away. Follow these tips and techniques for sewing leather -  real and faux -  to get the desired results the first time!

· Fit Before You Start – Do your measuring and fitting before you sew the leather fabric together and find out you need to let it out. If you have any doubt about the fit, err on the side of making it a little too big so any stitches will be on the inside of the garment once you take it up.

· Think Clips, Not Pins – Just as sewing machine needles leave holes in the leather, so will pins. Instead of pins, use paper clips or quilting clips that will hold the layers together without doing any damage. Don’t use tape, either, as it may stick to the surface and damage the fabric.

· Use a Leather Sewing Machine Needle- A specialty needle that is made for sewing leather is made with a wedge point so that it makes a smaller perforation in the material. Use one of these needles whether sewing real or faux leather.

· Reverse Pattern Pieces – Normal fabrics are folded when cutting out so that double pieces that go on each side are cut in the right direction. With leather, the thickness and the irregularity of the shape of real leather work better if you cut out in a single layer. If you do, make sure you reverse the pattern for the second piece. Otherwise, you will be left short!

· Limit Markings to the Wrong Side – If you need to transfer markings to the fabric, do it on the back side. Use chalk or a soft market and avoid transfer wheel that could leave holes.

· Be Cautious with Glue – Leather seams and hems are often glued down to prevent bulk. No finishing is required so getting these areas to lay flat is your primary goal. Use fabric or leather glue made for this purpose and be careful not to spill or smear on the surface of the leather. Other types of glue can expand and harden, making an irregular finish to the seam. Press down firmly to ensure a flat finish after gluing.

What is the best sewing machine for leather

· Use the Right Foot – If your machine includes a Teflon foot, this is the best choice for sewing leather. A roller foot is also a good option and can be identified by the small cylinder in the foot that rolls around as it goes across the fabric. If neither option is available, place a piece of clear tape securely on the bottom of your regular foot to prevent it from sticking to the fabric.

· Choose the Right Fabric – Whether sewing with real or faux leather, opt for those that are of the lightest weight. This is especially important when combining with other lightweight fabrics or sewing full garments like gathered skirts that you don’t want to be too heavy. It will also prevent you from having any problems sewing that you might have with thicker fabric.

If you don’t have a fabric shop near you that carries real leather fabric, there are options for leather in a wide range of colors online. Keep in mind that minor flaws in the material are natural and part of the beauty of the fabric but there should not be any damage that creates weak spots in the material. Purchase from a reputable dealer with a positive track record to ensure you get the quality that they guarantee. As an alternative, you may want to try your hand at sewing less expensive faux leather before you give the real thing a try!

Sew Foolproof Hems with Coverstitching

A coverstitch machine is a specialty sewing machine that is primarily used to create hems. Although coverstitching works well on woven fabrics by keeping them from raveling, they are especially useful for hemming knit fabrics. The stitch it makes maintains the stretch in the fabric and doesn’t pucker as is the case when you sew stretchy fabrics with a traditional sewing machine. To see what a coverstitch looks like, you can look at the hem of almost any t-shirt.

The coverstitch machine uses one, two, or more spools of thread on top and one bobbin on the bottom that is fed through a looper. The latter feature is what causes the thread to form a chain stitch across the raw edge of the fabric. Some sewers like to use different colors of thread on the top spools to add a decorative touch to some of their sewing.

Overlock vs Coverstitch

These two types of machines are very similar in the way they work with one significant difference: The overlock machine has a blade built-in that trims the seams and stitches over them as you sew. This feature makes it easy to sew knit garments without having to go back over them and finish the seams to prevent stretching or raveling.

The coverstitch machine, on the other hand, has no blade and is used primarily for hemming. Many sewers find that the most difficult part of sewing many types of garments is in getting an even, professional quality hem. If you plan on sewing a lot of knits, you may want to invest in both types of specialty machines.

Tips for Creating the Perfect Coverstitch Hem

There are many different strategies for creating the perfect hem with a coverstitch machine but they all focus on getting the hem even all the way around and placing the garment correctly in the machine to ensure the coverstitch goes over the length of the raw edge underneath. Although you will not need to use all of the tips below to use the machine to make a hem, a little extra effort could go a long way in getting the professional-looking results you want from your machine.

  • Use knit interfacing tape under the edge of the hem. This is one point that many pros agree on. The tape will prevent the fabric from stretching while you sew so it doesn’t end up wavy. It will also help the hem maintain its shape in the future.
    • If you have an overlock machine, serge the edge of the hem before coverstitching. You should be able to feel the stitching through the fabric to help you keep the hem straight while you sew.
    • When working with woven fabrics, mark the hem and press upwards before stitching to get an evenly stitched hem.
    • If you are shopping for a new coverstitching machine, make sure it has the free arm feature. This is essential for handling smaller items like pant legs or children’s clothing items.
    • Check out the tutorial for your coverstitch machine on YouTube. Many brands offer demonstrations on threading, stitching, and using various stitching techniques. It’s also a good way to get troubleshooting tips in case you aren’t getting the results that you expected.

    Buying a dedicated coverstitch machine may seem extravagant to some sewers, but those who enjoy working with knits and making athletic apparel will appreciate the ability of the machine to create beautiful hems that perform like they were meant to. The more you sew, the more benefits you will get from your investment.

     

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Hand Held Sewing Machines: Which one is for you?

Hand held sewing machines are convenient, versatile, and a good solution in a pinch for a lot of sewing situations. Home isn’t the only place where you might have the need for a sewing machine fast. Depending on the hand held sewing machine you choose, you can get an easy to operate alternate to a regular machine that is portable and strong enough for some repairs of all types of materials. For this review, I am comparing the Singer Stitch Sew Quick, Singer Mini, Lycheers Mini 2-in-1, and the Sunbeam hand held sewing machines.

Quick Recommendation

If you don't need the desktop features, then buy the Singer. However, the Lycheers 2-in-1 gives you more for about the same money, making it our top pick.

Pros:

  • Small
  • Inexpensive
  • Portable
  • Repair clothes without taking them off

Portability is probably one of the best qualities of these machines and in this way they are very convenient to use. They have made sewing somewhat more convenient, and they definitely make more accurate stitches than what most folks can do by hand.

One thing to keep in mind is that hand held sewing machines are not meant to replace traditional sewing machines for regular use. Even the best handheld sewing machine will not have the capacity to perform the same quality of stitching or have the versatility that your regular sewing machine has. What it can do is provide you with a portable machine that makes mending items easier. For example, you can’t hem a pair of drapes on your regular sewing machine without taking them down but you can with a hand held machine.

Some sewers also use hand held sewing machines to learn how to sew. They are a great way to make crafts without the need to invest in a more expensive machine. Even the best hand held sewing machines are affordable and they provide the basic straight stitch that beginners must master before they begin to expand their capabilities.

Cons:

  • Most people find them difficult to use
  • Cheaply made and not very durable
  • Can't stitch heavier materials well (denim, leather, etc.)
  • Stitches don't hold as well as those made with a proper sewing machine

There are many cheap hand held sewing machines on the market. Being inexpensive is also one of their defining features. I've listed the pros and cons below in a very frank manner. If you buy one of these I want you to go in with eyes wide open about it and be at least semi-pleased with your purchase. 

One of the greatest difficulties sewers have with all types of these machines is in understanding the instructions on how to use them. Some learn how to use them through perseverance while others turn to YouTube videos for visual demonstrations that make it easier. In many cases, a demonstration makes all the difference in how well they are able to enjoy their new machine. I think it's actually better to buy an easy to use sewing machine to get started because it better prepares you for serious use.

 Singer Stitch Sew QuickSinger MiniLycheers Mini 2-in-1Sunbeam
Fabric CapabilitiesSilks, Wool, Leather, Denim, Craft MaterialsSilks, Wool, Leather, Denim, Craft MaterialsSilks, Wool, Leather, Denim, Craft MaterialsLightweight Materials Only
Size9" x 7.5" x 2"9" x 8" x 2"10" x 8" x 4"11" x 9" x 4"
Power4 AA Batteries, Adapter4 AA Batteries or AC/DC Adapter4 AA Batteries or AC Adapter4 AA Batteries or Adapter
Adapter Included?NoNoYesYes
Price$$$$
Included in BoxSewing Machine, Bobbins, Needles, Needle Threader, Thread Spindle, InstructionsMachine, 3 Threaded Bobbins, 1 Needle Threader, 3 Machine Needles, 1 Thread SpindleSewing Machine, AC Adapter, User ManualSewing Machine, Adapter, User Manual
Special FeaturesNoneNoneDesktop or Handheld Operation2 Stitching Speeds

How to Choose a Hand Held Sewing Machine

Nowadays, there are sewing machines that are available on the market for every budget, and not only that but also for every type of a project you might have. If you purchase the right sewing machine for your needs then your job will be way easier.

Take into consideration the following things when looking for a hand held sewing machine:

  • Think of your current skills and whether you want to advance those skills or not. Pros are certain to be disappointed with these machines.
  • Determine the type of sewing project you might have. Hand held sewing machines are ok for some lightweight fabrics and not for heavier fabrics.

Singer Stitch Quick 2

Singer has been a leading name in sewing machines for more than a century. The small size of the Singer Mini makes it easy to stick in your purse to take along for all types of events. When someone has to make presentations or performances in front of crowds, having a good hand held sewing machine available for clothing or costume repairs is a must. You can also keep it in your glove compartment so it is always close by when needed.

The Singer Stitch Quick is white and operates on 4AA batteries or with an AC/DC adapter, sold separately. For best results when keeping stored in your car or other place for extended periods, purchase an adapter so you know your machine will always be ready to go. It comes with 3 threaded bobbins, 1 needle threader, 3 machine needles and 1 thread spindle.

Singer Stitch Sew Quick

This Singer comes with everything you need to make a repair immediately and it claims to be durable enough to stitch heavier materials like denim and leather, although the experience of actual users tells me that doesn't work for everyone. The instructions are better than the Sunbeam and people seem to generally have a better experience with this machine. The company's support is top-notch as well. Singer is a very reputable company that specializes in sewing machines and if a hand held model is right for your circumstances and you don't need the desktop functions, this is the one to get. I recommend both the Singer models as they are extremely similar. 

Lycheers Mini 2-in-1

This machine differs from other hand held sewing machines my offering you the choice in handheld or desktop operation. It has the portability and ease of use that you will find with other machines and some additional features that could make it even more versatile for you. It has two stitching speeds and uses either 4 AA batteries or the AC adapter which is included. For crafts and repairs, use it on a desk for two-hand operation. For repairs on the fly, use as a traditional handheld machine.

Sunbeam Hand Held Sewing Machine

The short answer here is that I don't recommend this machine. Though it's made by a reputable brand, virtually no one who buys it actually likes it. After scouring the internet for someone with something nice to say, the only positive reviews were on Amazon and from people who had received a free machine in exchange for the review. A common complaint is that the instructions are so poor that users have a hard time even figuring out what to do with it. The Sunbeam is usually a few cents cheaper than the Singer, but not worth it at all. 

Summary

If you have a good quality hand held sewing machine you can make quick repairs around your house in no time. You can make clothing out of scratch and repair the ones that are already damaged. There are a wide assortment of handheld sewing machines available so you can find a machine that meets your specifications.

All of these machines are relatively inexpensive and all of them have a narrow use case versus a full-size sewing machine. If you understand their limitations though, you can get a very affordable machine that is useful for small jobs, travel purposes and other sewing situations where you're in a pinch or need a small machine to do jobs in place. 

I recommend the Lycheers Mini 2-in-1, unless you don't care about the desktop features, in which case the Singer will do.

What is the Best Intermediate Sewing Machine?

Quick Recommendation

While you pay more, the Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist is packed with features and delivers a lot of bang for the buck. It's our pick for those with intermediate skills.

Sewing machines can be broken down into three basic groups: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced or heavy duty. For the large majority of sewers, an intermediate sewing machine is usually the best choice. These machines offer more features than an introductory level machine and are usually more durable.

Within the category of intermediate sewing machines, there are many styles, brands, number of features and prices to choose from. The best intermediate sewing machine for someone that uses their sewing machine to do occasional alterations probably won’t be the same machine that is best for someone who sews a variety of crafts. For this review, I chose the Brother XR3774, Janome Jem Gold 660, and the Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist to make it easier for all types of sewers to select the best intermediate sewing machine for their particular needs and budget.

Brother XR3774

This is a full-featured sewing and quilting machine that is a great value. Here are its features:

  • It has 37 stitches, 8 sewing feet and comes with an instructional DVD that makes it even easier to use.
  • It is very affordable at less than $125 and it is versatile enough to use for all types of sewing projects.
  • Simple enough for a beginner to use. Makes it a good choice for anyone who has not put their sewing skills to use for an extended period of time or who finds other models too intimidating.
  • Has a 1-step auto-size buttonhole and 74 stitch functions for a wide range of creativity options.
  • Brightly lit LED work area lets you see sewing projects clearly.
  • Free arm to sew cuffs and sleeves or for easy access to small crafts.
  • Comes with a variety of accessories including a blind stitch foot, button sewing foot, walking foot, quilting guide and much more.
  • Quilting component of the machine includes a free motion quilting foot and built-in quilting stitches.

Janome Jem Gold 660

The Janome Jem Gold is a compact, lightweight sewing and quilting machine with just the right number of features for many intermediate sewers. Its light weight makes it easy to take along to sewing or quilting classes without the burden of a traditional machine.

  • Has 8 stitches that include 2 stretch stitches and a built-in buttonhole.
  • Standard accessories include a zig-zag foot, sliding buttonhole foot, overedge foot and specialized bobbin.
  • Jam-proof drop-in bobbin, built-in needle threader, quick foot conversion, horizontal full rotary hook, and one-hand thread cutter.
  • It offers the best of sewing convenience and Janome quality in a compact size that costs about $200.

The Janome Jem Gold 660 is the best intermediate sewing machine for sewers who want more than the basic straight and zig-zag stich but not the numerous features of a professional-level machine. It also makes a great companion for the classroom, especially for sewers who are unable to carry a heavier machine. Users give this model high ratings as the best intermediate sewing machine for reliability and ease-of-use.

Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist

As the number of stitches grows, so does the versatility.

  • With 650 preset built-in stitches.
  • Computerized model is a more expensive option at just over $350.
  • Select a stitch at the push of a button and the start/stop operation takes away the need for a foot pedal.
  • Offers tips on the LCD screen for which presser foot to use for the stitch that you choose.
  • It has the capacity to sew straight, simple lines that beginners use to learn as well as the decorative stitches that more advanced sewers rely on for creativity.
  • With 13 styles of buttonholes.

The Quantum stylist has a lot of convenient features that make it easy to use including an automatic needle threader, drop-in bobbin system, automatic tension, extra-high presser foot, and a free arm. More than anything else, the fact that makes this the best intermediate sewing machine for the money is that even if you will never use half of the stitches, you will get the features you do need at the same price or less than machines that have a lot less to offer.

Choosing the Best Intermediate Sewing Machine for Your Needs

The specific features of a machine are what will determine if it is the best intermediate sewing machine for you. A sewing machine can inspire your creativity or limit you from ever expanding your horizons. Think about the types of sewing that you want to do and the features that will make it easy for you to accomplish those projects.

Looking for the best sewing machine for your budget? Click here.

Another consideration in choosing the best intermediate sewing machine is the brand name. Brother, Janome and Singer are some of the leading brands in sewing machines of all types. They also offer a variety of models that make it easy to find good quality at a price that is right for you. The models reviewed here are perfect examples of why you don’t have to sacrifice quality or performance to get a good value. Sewers repeatedly name these brands as their picks for the best intermediate sewing machines hands-down!

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The Best Sewing Machine for Your Budget

With hundreds of brands and models of sewing machines on the market, there are a number of factors that you can base your choice on.

You may want a machine that is lightweight enough to take to sewing class or sturdy enough to stand up to the demands of professional use.

If you like to sew crafts, you will want a sewing machine that has a lot of stitches, a free arm, and is easy-to-use. In addition to finding a machine that fits your functional needs, you probably have a specific budget in mind.

To help you make the choice of sewing machines that is right for you on every level, I have chosen to compare the best sewing machine under $1000, $500, $200, and $100. These are the Singer S18 Studio, the Pfaff Smarter C-1100 Pro, the Brother HC-1850, and the Brother XL2600I sewing machines.

The Best Sewing Machine Under $1,000

The Singer S18 Studio sewing machine is a high performance machine for both quilting and sewing that is dealer grade. The machine from a leader in sewing machine brands is comparable to a professional model but at a much lower cost.

With 400 built-in stitches which includes 7 styles of button holes, you have unlimited for creating all types of professional-quality projects. It also allows you to store up to 50 stitch combinations. When you are ready to use them again, simply pull them up with the touch of a button.

Quilters will appreciate the Singer S18’s ability to use block and script letters and numbers in 5mm or 7mm sizes to create custom quilt labels. Programmable needle up and down also enhance quilting and applique projects.

Additional features include pattern elongation, automatic thread cutting, 80 quilting stitches, and an extra-large sewing space for more versatility in taking on a wide range of sewing projects. This is the best sewing machine under $1,000 for sewers and quilters alike.

The Best Sewing Machine Under $500

The Janome Computerized DC2013 is a home sewing machine with the features and performance you would expect from a high-end sewing machine. With 50 stitches, including 3 buttonholes, it is a versatile machine that is as good for crafts and scrapbooking as it is for garment sewing and home decorating projects. Features include an auto-lock button, speed control slider, and easy reverse. The features that make this machine a real standout are its stability and reliability.

The DC2013 also features Janome’s exclusive Superior Feed System to deliver consistent, even stitch quality. Computerized direct stitch selection buttons and a memorized up and down needle stop position make it easy to continue sewing without interruption. The built-in needle threader also simplifies sewing preparation for those of us that have a little trouble seeing the target!

The bright LED screen and easy navigation keys let you choose the stitch you want to return to an existing project or to go back and forth between multiple jobs. This machine ranks high as the best sewing machine under $500 for its versatility and reliable performance for all types of projects.

The Best Sewing Machine Under $200

The Brother HC1850 is a feature-packed, versatile and reliable sewing machine that you can use for sewing, quilting, decorative stitching and basic monogramming.

In addition to 130 stitches, it also has a sewing font for monogramming and 8 different styles of 1-step auto-size buttonholes. The Brother HC1850 is the best sewing machine under $200 for decorative sewing, heirloom sewing and quilting.

Brother HC1850

The sewing machine has a number of special quilting features such as a spring action quilting foot, the ability for free-motion quilting, detachable wide table, and 14 quilting stitch functions. It comes with an attached stitch flip-chart, 8 specialty presser feet, a detachable foot controller and an instructional DVD and user’s manual. The Brother brand and versatile features make this the best sewing machine under $200 for quality and versatility.

The Best Sewing Machine Under $100

The Brother XL26001 has overwhelmingly been voted as the best sewing machine under $100 by the many customers who have tried it firsthand. It exceeds a basic sewing machine with 25 built-in stitches and Brother brand quality. A free-arm feature lets you work on hems, sleeves and other small items. An accessory storage place is built into the free arm where you can keep accessories close but out of the way.

Additional features of the XL26001 include a needle threader, drop-in bobbin loading, thread cutter, and 1-step auto-size buttonholer. It is simple enough for beginner use and has features that meet the basic needs of a home sewer.

It works great for sewing clothing and crafts and it is backed by a 25-year limited warranty that reflects the quality of the brand. A jam-resistant drop-in bobbin and easy stitch selector let you go fluidly from project to project. The Brother XL26001 has all the features needed to make it the best sewing machine under $100.

Sometimes those new to sewing will try to find the cheapest possible machine, perhaps even a hand held sewing machine, as their first model. I strongly advise against this. Those machines can have their place for certain use cases, but they will be frustrating to a novice. Stick to the Brother model above for an affordable entry point to sewing.​

The Best Sewing Machine For Your Budget

It is important to note that price does not always directly reflect the quality of a sewing machine. The price frame used in this review is not according to the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Instead, they are based on the discount that you get when you shop online.

For example, the Brother XL26001 is the best sewing machine under $100 at $79.30. However, the actual manufacturer’s recommended retail price is $149.99, meaning that it is a higher quality machine that makes it an even better value.

The same is true when looking for the best sewing machine under $1000 or more. Sewing machines offered at a much higher price for their professional capabilities may actually have less to offer than those priced lower.

This is why you should choose a machine for the quality of the brand, the appropriateness of the features to the price, and the value that fits comfortably into your budget. The machines listed here are the best sewing machines for each price category based on all the important features that you need to get great results every time you sew!