What is the Best Sewing Machine for Leather?
Selecting a leather sewing machine presents unique challenges. Most tabletop machines intended for home use lack the power and special features necessary to truly function as leather sewing machines, while industrial machines tend to be expensive and less user-friendly. This article compares three machines poised to bridge the gap, promising heavy duty results from tabletop machines.
With a cast aluminum body and simple lines, the Janome HD1000 radiates the sturdiness of sewing machines from an earlier era. Marketed as “Heavy Duty,” the HD1000 costs claims to be an affordable sewing machine for denim and leather.
In the same price range as the Janome HD1000 is the Singer CG590. With a rigid metal frame, the CG590 promises to bring “Commercial Grade” results, including the ability to tackle difficult materials.
While Toyota has been producing sewing machines since 1946, they’ve only been selling in the United States for the past few years. Like the other machines in this article, the Toyota FSG325 is positioned as a “Heavy Duty” machine intended for everything from crafting fine apparel to working multiple layers of leather and denim.
Motor strength is a critical consideration when sewing leather. While the Janome HD1000 is powered by a respectable 1.0 amp motor, the Singer CG590 boasts a 1.6 amp motor, one of the strongest available in a home sewing machine. The Toyota FSG325 comes in at the bottom with a 0.6 amp motor.
Because sewing leaves permanent holes in leather, choosing a longer stitch length ultimately results in stronger seams. All three machines offer stitch lengths well above the standard 2.5 mm, with the Janome HD1000 topping out at 4 mm and the Singer CG590 extending to 6 mm. The Toyota FSG325 is a middle-of-the-road option with a maximum stitch length of 5 mm.
Another important characteristic that helps qualify these models as leather sewing machines is their ability to handle thick material. The Janome HD1000, Singer CG590, and Toyota FSG325 all feature an extra-high presser foot lift that provides an additional ¼-inch of clearance when needed. To further accommodate thick fabrics, the Janome and Toyota machines allow the user to manually adjust the presser foot pressure. The Singer model takes this one step further and offers an automatic pressure system that adjusts to handle fabrics of varying thickness.
Like other leather sewing machines for sale, the Janome HD1000, Singer CG590, and Toyota FSG325 feature high stitch speeds, with the HD1000 reaching 840 stitches-per-minute and the Toyota FSG325 close behind at 800 stitches-per-minute. The Singer peaks at an impressive 1100 stitches-per-minute. To help handle these speeds, the Singer CG590 has a regulating dial that can be used to limit the speed when needed and both the Singer and Janome models include a finger guard to keep hands safely away from the needle.
Reliability is one area where the Janome HD1000 shines. All three machines have a metal interior frame, but the Janome has also incorporated metal parts throughout. By comparison, the body and many other parts of the Toyota and Singer are plastic. Complaints related to needle alignment, tension issues, bobbin performance, jamming, and broken parts are common with the Singer CG590. Although not as widely maligned as the Singer, there is concern that Toyota’s choice to use plastic for important components such as the drive gear is problematic.
Recommendation - Singer CG590
The Janome HD1000, Singer CG590, and Toyota FSG325 each position themselves as the best home sewing machine for garment-weight leather in their price range. The Singer CG590 brings better specifications to the table nearly all the way around, although all three machines contain enough features to accomplish most home leather jobs. If you want a machine you can hand down to your grandchildren, Janome’s performance history, solid motor power, and reliability make it the best choice. However, the Singer has the best all-around set of features and it tends to be the cheapest of the three, making it a serious value if long-term reliability isn't your number one concern.