Finding the right sewing machine for heavy sewing can be quite challenging. Many sewing machines, particularly those made today, simply can't stand up to frequent use and aren't capable of sewing through denim, leather or heavy upholstery fabrics. A sewing machine can be a costly investment, so making the right choice for your needs, particularly if you will be doing commercial or heavy sewing is critical.
Vintage sewing machines remain an excellent choice for heavy sewing, whether you are simply sewing for yourself or sewing as a small business. Older machines, particularly those made before 1970, are constructed of metal and can be easily cleaned and maintained at home. High powered motors and metal gears can manage heavy fabrics and frequent use without problems. If you choose to buy a vintage sewing machine, take it to a skilled repair shop for a tune up early on, and ask for a lesson in oiling and cleaning your machine. Many vintage machines run beautifully today, even for industrial sewing, with very little work. Look for a machine with a straight stitch, zigzag and buttonhole for a good all purpose heavy duty sewing machine. Vintage machines can be the best choice in terms of price, function and accessibility for most heavy sewing.
If you expect to do any heavy sewing or industrial sewing with your modern machine, you should be prepared to make a substantial investment. You should also know that many sewing machine companies state that commercial sewing will invalidate the warranty on your sewing machine. A reputable dealer may be able to help you make a choice that can stand up to heavy duty sewing. Ask to bring in samples of materials you expect to sew to test with the machine before you buy. You might also consider shopping for a modern all metal machine; however, these can be hard to find.
Industrial Sewing Machines
Industrial sewing machines are the best choice for hard core heavy duty sewing, including tent canvas and leather. The motors, adjustments and functionality of these machines can allow you to sew heavy fabrics all day with ease and without damaging your machine. You should keep in mind that industrial sewing machines can be harder to use and much more expensive than a machine intended for home use. It is also unlikely that you will be able to test or compare these heavy duty sewing machines before purchasing. Be sure to read the manual fully to see that the industrial sewing machine you are buying will meet your needs.
With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.