There are many benefits of knowing the different types of sewing machine brands, makes, purposes and functions.
If you are a sewing learner and you know the similarities and differences between various types of the sewing machine, you'll be happy that you'll have a better clarity of work.
Some of these benefits are -
- You can identify if your sewing machine can handle any type of sewing requirement or not.
- You can set your sewing machine and accordingly adjust needle, thread, bobbin, material etc. to get the best sewing experience.
Any sewing machine may fulfil one or more than one category. For example, you can use an industrial sewing machine for your home sewing projects.
You can convert your domestic manual sewing machine into an electric sewing machine with an electric motor and pedal.
You may be interested to know that most of the sewing machines can stitch lightweight to medium weight fabrics, not all machines can sew heavy fabrics like denim and canvas.
Thus, you will need a specialized sewing machine for leather sewing or bulk production of jute bags.
With a few modifications, you can embroider with your treadle sewing machine but you'll make better designs with an electric or automatic embroidery machine, which can do quilting also.
Price of a sewing machine may differ based on discounts offered, sale, new or used condition etc. Once you may get a sewing machine for a higher price but at sale time you may get the same sewing machine at a much cheaper rate.
Thus, these classifications would help you know your sewing machine better, and my purpose of providing you with this detailed information is to help you understand sewing machines in simple terms.
As a beginner sewing learner, you can categorize sewing machine in these types –
1. Type of Stitches
A mechanical sewing machine can do straight stitch, whereas an electronic sewing machine can do decorative stitches/embroidery stitches.
Most sewing machines can stitch but overlock machine or serger can finish edges only. You can do embroidery with automatic sewing machines but you cannot sew with an exclusive embroidery machine.
Computerized sewing machines can do quilting as well but you cannot run them without electricity.
2. Type Of Energy Used
There are two types of energy which is used to run any sewing machine -
A Manual sewing machine is Hand-operated machine or Treadle (foot operated) sewing machine. You need physical energy to run a manual sewing machine.
Physical energy is called kinetic energy.
If you are a beginner sewing machine user, what’s the best sewing machine for you, manual or electric? It depends on some important factors.
Electric Power Energy
All the sewing machines can run on electric power, if you have fixed an electric motor and made some basic settings.
You can fix a serger on a treadle table and also fix a motor. I had such an arrangement in my boutique. Sometimes, when we didn't have the electricity, the workers run the serger manually. Other times, it was run on electricity.
I have an industrial sewing machine and it also has both arrangements - treadle table as well as a high speed motor.
All automatic sewing machines, electronic sewing machines, industrial stitching machines, computerized sewing machines work with electric power. You cannot run them without electricity.
3. Type Of Functions
Mechanical sewing machine can do basic straight stitching. Electronic machines and Computerized sewing machines can sew as well as embroidery.
Specialized machines like serger can overlock pretty well. Quilting machines can sew many layers of fabrics.
An industrial level Embroidery machine is experts' choice for creating designs on clothes or accessories.
Besides, you get some other machines only for button fixing, denim jeans mass production, leather sewing etc. These are electric industrial sewing machines, some of them are computerized.
4. Type Of Usage
Manual and Automatic sewing machines are good for domestic/home use. You can use them for basic home-based sewing work.
For a tailoring shop or fashion boutique, you'll need an electric sewing machine with high speed and low maintenance.
A specialized sewing machine is best for industrial / garment factory. High end computerized machines are labor saving.
5. Type Of Material Weight
Domestic sewing machines like Usha Janome Dream Stitch or Bandhan can sew lightweight fabrics to medium weight fabrics in two or three layers.
Though, you can do medium quilting but you cannot run your sewing machine needle on five thick layers of fabric. If you try hard, the needle may break.
Heavy duty sewing machines or Industrial machines are best to sew heavy fabrics and multiple layers.
6.Type Of Material
Domestic sewing machines can sew lightweight fabrics like cotton, georgette, silk, rayon etc.
Automatic sewing machines can handle fennel, knits, woven fabrics better and industrial sewing machines can sew leather, fur, jute, raxin, parachute, synthetics, natural fibers more smoothly.
7. Type Of Product Outcome
When you start learning to sew, you may be particular about sewing baby clothes, blouse, gown, churidar, kurti, tunic, t-shirts and you ensure that your sewing machine creates your favorite type of product outcome.
You'll be satisfied that manual sewing machines, automatic stitching machines, industrial machines, computerized machines can fulfill your above wish.
But serger and specialized sewing machines would not do that.
Secondly, if you want to sew denim jeans, bag, shoe, belt, mass produced garments, you will require an industrial sewing machine or heavy duty machine.
8. Cost Of Sewing Machine
Many people do not bother about the features, stitches and design of a sewing machine, but they identify a product with its price.
For them, a sewing machine can be divided within different price ranges.
Cheap Sewing Machine
A mechanical sewing machine and basic automatic sewing machines are low cost, cheap and budget-friendly machines.
Affordable Sewing Machine
A feature rich zig-zag automatic machine or an electric sewing machine is medium-priced, which they can afford though it is slightly expensive.
Premium Sewing Machine
A highly priced or premium sewing machine is Computerized sewing machines and specialized sewing machines.
When you have money – nothing is pricey and the day you don't have money, everything seems costly. Thus, each sewing machine or any product you buy must fulfil the quality and satisfaction at its given price.
You can buy a used sewing machine and save a lot of money, but remember these tips before paying money for a used sewing machine.
5 Most Popular
Types of Sewing Machines
A sewing machine is used for sewing or stitching. In simple words -
Sewing is to unite parts by stitches, and stitching is joining two parts together.
Thus, you may expect any sewing machine to do the simple, basic task of joining two parts together with stitches.
More systematically,, Sewing Machines can be categorized into these five types:
1.Mechanical Sewing Machine, also known as -
- Domestic Sewing Machine
- Hand Operated Sewing Machine.
- Treadle Sewing Machine
2. Electric Sewing Machine
- Industrial Sewing Machine
- Umbrella Sewing Machine
- Lockstitch Machine
3. Computerized or Automated Sewing Machine
- Automatic Sewing Machine
- Mini Sewing Machine
- Handy Sewing Machine (Battery Operated)
- Bar Tack Sewing Machine
- Button Sewing Machine
- Long Arm Quilting Sewing Machine
4. Embroidery Machine
- Chain stitch machine
- Blind stitch machine
- Cover stitch machine
- Safety stitch machine
5. Overlock Sewing Machine Or Serger
- Interlocking machine
Detailed Features, Pros and Cons of
Different Types of Sewing Machines
1. Mechanical Sewing Machines
Mechanical sewing machines are also called –
- Domestic Sewing Machine
- Manual Stitching Machine
- Tailoring Machine
- Treadle Sewing Machine
In a mechanical machine, you need to do the basic sewing settings manually. It is the best sewing machine for a beginner sewing learner because it is –
- Simple To Operate
- Basic Straight Stitch Features
- Can Be Repaired Quickly.
If you compare a mechanical silai or sewing machine with any other type of sewing machines, these are more affordable.
Basic Features Of A Mechanical Sewing Machine –
- Presser Foot or Handle to operate
- Adjustable Stitch Length,
- Bottom Loading Bobbin,
- Adjustable Tension,
- Single (Straight And Reverse) Stitch
- Requires Manual/Kinetic Energy
- No Electricity Needed
- Half Shuttle Sewing Machine
- Can Handle Light To Medium Fabric/Material Sewing
Limitations Of A Mechanical Sewing Machine
Many automatic sewing machines mention themselves as domestic sewing machines. They are good sewing machines for domestic use, but they are electric sewing machines, that we'll discuss later.
- Mechanical sewing machines cannot handle heavy or thick fabric material such as denim, rexin, fur, jute, synthetic and leather.
- One more thing that I don't like about a manual sewing machine is that you have only a basic stitch option.
- You need to thread the needle manually, and a lot of physical energy is required to sew even a small thing.
- Sewing becomes more like a task with a monotonous single straight stitch function.
Design Of A Mechanical Sewing Machine –
Sewing machine model and brand decide the design of a machine. Commonly, mechanical sewing machines have an aluminium/cast iron body in black, brown or grey colour.
Most people prefer black sewing machine colour.
To Place Your Machine, You Can Keep It On –
- Floor (not advisable because it causes back and neck pain),
- Table, or
- Get customized sewing work station.
To Sew With A Mechanical Machine, You Can Choose –
- Treadle (foot operated) sewing machines, or
- Hand operated sewing machine with a handle.
A manual sewing machine requires a lot of physical energy. For a learner, it is good because you think more and stitch less.
I know it because I used it extensively while learning sewing as a teenager.
After using automatic sewing machines, I learned to get faster speed and better quality of even quality stitching.
Though a treadle sewing machine is durable and heavy, it needs more space to keep. This machine is not supposed to move around every day.
Comparison Review Between Manual And Electric Sewing Machines
A mechanical sewing machine in comparison with an electric sewing machine is -
- Easy to operate
- Do not need sewing experience.
- Best for sewing learners
- Suitable for occasional home use sewing
- Useful for small tailoring jobs
- Good for simple, basic stitching
A domestic sewing machine price in India is between Rs.4000/- to Rs.15000/- depending on the treadle table you are buying with it or separately.
Current Trends -
The classic differentiating line is blurring in the latest models of sewing machines. The market is introducing primary mechanical sewing machines with some advanced features to lure the customers.
At the same time, more than 50% of the world has stopped producing and selling manual sewing machines, and the United States is one of those countries.
Many Asians countries, including India, is still producing a few models of branded manual sewing machines. You may get many locally manufactured low-cost mechanical sewing machines around your locality or online.
These are the best manual sewing machine brands and models, which are trusted for quality, sewing experience, ease of use, and low price.
2. Electric Sewing Machine
You can turn a treadle sewing machine into an electric machine by adding an electric motor to it.
A motor may increase the speed a little, and you can use electric power rather than your physical power while sewing.
But a fully electric sewing machine is more than an electric motor fixed to it. It will have more durability, more robust body to handle the sewing speed and more features.
An Electric Sewing Machine Is Also Called –
- Boutique Sewing Machine
- Factory Sewing Machine
- Umbrella Sewing Machine
- Garment Manufacturing Sewing Machine
- Jeans Sewing Machine
- Leather Sewing Machine
- Jute Bag Sewing Machine
- Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine
These sewing machines are used for the mass production of garments. Sewing setting is adjusted as per the requirement.
An electric sewing machine can be categorized into two types –
Industrial Sewing Machine
The main features of an electric industrial sewing machine are its :-
- It is a Full shuttle machine with
- Heavy metal body and it
- Looks like a mechanical sewing machine but it is slightly bigger, larger and heavier.
- high speed,
- high cost of purchasing but low maintenance, and
- Electric power
- These are speed monsters. You need some patience and practice to learn sewing on an industrial sewing machine because it runs quite fast.
2. Electronic sewing machines
Another type of electric sewing machine is Electronic Sewing Machines, which is also called an Automatic Sewing Machine.
Contrary to popular belief, a basic electric or electronic sewing machine is only a few thousand rupees more expensive than a manual sewing machine.
For example, Usha Janome Dream Stitch or Singer 8280 are around eight thousand rupees, whereas a Manual Sewing Machine from any of these reputed brands is around six thousand rupees.
Affordable price is one of the reasons why electronic sewing machines are becoming more popular.
The main features of an electronic sewing machine are –
- Offers more stitching and decorative stitches and features than a mechanical sewing machine.
- These machines are better than mechanical sewing machine and one step down to a computerized sewing machine.
- Most home-use machines are Half shuttle,
- Better speed than manual machines but not meant for garment manufacturing plants.
- Best beginner sewing machines because you can control stitching speed,
- Good for crafts, DIY (Do It Yourself) sewing, mending, repairs, light to medium fabric sewing.
- Some sewing machine models are more advanced, and you can stitch denim, leather and other heavy materials also.
- Lightweight, portable machines
- Attractive, colourful designs
- Plastic outer body and aluminium / cast iron internal body
- Unlike a manual sewing machine, you can change the presser foot multiple times to make beautiful decorative designs.
These are Top 10 Best Automatic Sewing Machine for Beginner sewing learners. This list includes most trusted, reliable, budget stitching machines in India.
For household sewing purpose, you can have many benefits –
- There are different models for beginner to professional sewing needs.
- You can effortlessly sew on these machines.
- Features free arm and in-built electric motor
- Compact size
- Some models have an LCD screen to choose the patterns
- Home use machines have a half shuttle
- Speed control
- Any beginner sewing learner can operate easily
- Better quality of stitching,
- Minimum 7 in-built stitch capability that may include depending on the model
- Blind stitch,
- Buttonhole stitch,
- Zip fixing,
- Reverse - stitch lever,
- Stretch stitching,
- Built-in Needle Threader,
- Top loading drop-in bobbin,
- Auto tripping bobbin,
- Automatic thread cutter,
- Twin needle compatibility,
- Adjustable stitch length and width,
- Adjustable presser foot,
- Adjustable needle positioning,
- Attachment option for other features.
Limitations of an Electric sewing machine –
Mechanical sewing machines had their presence in most of the households since grandmothers' times. Due to its simple, easy and user friendly operation; most of us never imagined if we could have a better sewing experience. This is a limitation most peopled created in their minds.
Industrial use sewing machines are generally not used in homes because they are more expensive, power-consuming, speedy and heavy.
Most people fear an electric stitching machine for its speed. I tell you my experience, I have an industrial sewing machine at home. It was a challenge to learn it initially because I had fears, but after sewing, I loved its speed.
For home use, electronic sewing machines are in the market for the last few decades, but most people still have apprehensions if the plastic body sewing machine would be as durable as their heavy metal sewing machine.
They don't understand that all white goods including their fridge, laptop, washing machine, mixer, juicer etc. are as durable as their sewing machine.
This is my detailed Usha Janome Stitch Magic Sewing Machine honest review guide after using Stitch Magic for 10+ years.
Some Common apprehensions and fears related to Electronic Sewing Machines –
#1. I may have an electric current
You can have an earthing or power stabilizer to overcome this fear. While I am sewing with metal electric pedal bare feet for more than 20 years, I feel safe.
#2. I may break the sewing machine
Electronic sewing machines are just like any other white good in your home. You don't break your washing machine, fridge, dishwasher, food processer, juicer or any other mixer.
Your plastic body sewing machine is like any other home appliance. I am using Usha Janome for ten years, and thankfully I am happy with it.
#3. You need a warranty because the machine may break down any time
How many times have you experienced that an appliance breaks down when the warranty has just expired!
If you buy a used sewing machine, you won't get a sewing machine warranty.
Whereas, you get a warranty with every new or company refurbished sewing machine, whether it is a manual machine or electric.
Even if you buy a sewing machine from a local manufacturer, he will give you a warranty of service.
My practical tip is that you should always strive for good care of your sewing machine rather than getting it serviced.
If you clean the bobbin area regularly, you will not need repairs and servicing. Any spare parts can be obtained from company showroom, dealer or online easily.
#4. An electronic sewing machine is less durable
My Stitch Magic is in regular use (you can watch my sewing channels), for last ten years. An electronic sewing machine lasts about 10 to 30 years or more, depending on your care for it.
#5. If you use it less, it will run longer
It is a myth. I have seen my neighbor's automatic sewing machine in a wrenched condition, which she never used for fear of breaking down the machine. Ultimately, she had to throw away that machine to a scrap dealer.
#6. Electric Sewing Machine means higher electricity bills
A mini sewing machine and handy sewing machine use battery, but all other sewing machines run on electricity.
Running an automatic stitching machine costs less than the electricity consumed by one LED bulb in your home.
#7. A feature rich sewing machine is costly
As expressed earlier, a basic automatic sewing machine like Usha Janome Dream Stitch or Singer 8280 is only a few thousand rupees costlier than a Manual sewing machine.
The price of electronic sewing machines in India is between Rs.8000/- to Rs. 25000/-. Mechanical and electronic sewing machines are easy to operate, user-friendly and cost-effective.
Therefore, these sewing machines are best for beginners. For more information, read the detailed sewing machine guide.
3. Computerized Sewing Machines
A Computerized Sewing Machine is an automated, electric sewing machine. These are high tech machines, you can –
- connect via the internet,
- with your computer,
- using design memory cards.
Professional sewists and fashion makers love to work on these type of sewing machines. You'll find some computerized sewing machines like Bernette Sew & Go, that is easy to operate even for a beginner sewing learner.
Computerized sewing machines are used for automating repetitive jobs in industrial units.
You can choose 50 to 200 in-built stitches in a computerized stitching machine.
It is more useful and labour saving for industrial garment production houses to install automated machines.
These machines are designed to create identical designs multiple times. Some computerized machines may be portable, lightweight for home use, whereas most machines are large and need specialized training.
Loaded with multiple needles and multiple spool spinners, a sewing machine may have multiple thread spools for embroidery, sewing, quilting, smocking etc.
Computerized industrial use sewing machines are efficient and fast to handle heavy-duty specialized sewing work in autopilot mode.
Autopilot stitching mode controls stitches per minute (SPM) speed, thread tension and stitch strength on its own.
Basic features of computerized sewing machines -
If you want to automate your sewing designs, embroidery etc. then a computerized sewing machine is the best choice for you.
Garment or textile production units find an automated machine useful.
Sewing lovers, skilled designing enthusiasts and home-based sewing entrepreneurs find a computerized sewing machine effort saving.
If you sew regularly and love to make a large number of sewing patterns and techniques, then it is the best sewing machine for you.
It is a heavy-duty sewing machine type, that can handle most fabric materials.
You can download any design pattern from the net. Then connect your sewing machine with your computer/chips to create designs.
A computerized sewing machine is a specialized machine with complex settings as compared to a manual or electric sewing machine.
You may need a sewing machine demo to learn it. Though, most sewing machines come with an Instructional Demo DVD. You can learn from online sewing machine tutorials, too.
You need to contact the sewing machine company for technical issues and errors.
Computerized sewing machine price in India is around Rs.25,000/- to Rs. 1,00,000/-.
These are the Best Computerized Embroidery Machine in India for making beautiful embroidery designs with accuracy and neatness, with utmost convenience.
4. Embroidery sewing machines
Once you start learning sewing, you stop being a beginner. I have experienced that people learn sewing pretty fast.
As soon as you start making a handkerchief, you get a feeling to make a small flower, butterfly, heart or some other beautiful embroidery.
Initially, you create hand embroidery designs, and gradually you wish for more speed, neatness and time-saving methods to complete your embroidery designs faster.
This urge to do more with your sewing machine has created a huge market for embroidery sewing machines.
I remember, a few decades ago, sewing and embroidery were two different zones. A sewing machine was meant for plain, straight stitch sewing. To make embroidery designs, you either got a separate embroidery machine or got designs made from professional artisans.
An Embroidery machine can be classified into two categories –
- Domestic sewing machines and
- Industrial sewing machines
With the introduction of automatic sewing machines, it has become possible to sew and embroidery using a beginner level sewing machine.
This machine maybe your Usha Janome Dream Stitch or Singer 1409. All types of modern zigzag sewing machines, computerized sewing machines are good for embroidery of different level. Design stitch options and combinations vary in all zig zag sewing machines.
You can do anchor thread designing with a manual sewing machine, but not much embroidery.
Industrial level embroidery machines are single-purpose machines, designed for a long duration, heavy-duty embroidery work. It could be a computerized machine or an electric industrial machine.
As a beginner, you can make basic embroidery designs with a zigzag sewing machine.
Price of electronic sewing machines in India starts at Rs.8000/-.
5. Overlocking Sewing Machine or Serger
In simple words, an overlocker locks the edges and prevents them from fraying. You can get an overlock stitch function in a zigzag sewing machine or buy a specialized sewing machine for it.
If you use your automatic sewing machine's overlock stitch, it is simple, like any other stitch setting. But an Overlocker or Serger not only finishes the edges but also cut the extra thread and fabric.
An overlock machine is the same as a serger. It is also called interlock machine.
Main Features of an overlock machine or serger –
This machine is used for joining or sewing the edges of the fabric with three or four threads.
If you sew regularly, you need a serger otherwise you can use an overlock stitch foot or function in your basic sewing machine
An Overlocker has –
- inbuilt cutter,
- blade to cut the uneven edges of the fabric while edging the garment or textile.
Know more about overlock, interlock and serger in this post -
Serger, Overlock Machine is different than Interlock Stitch. Serger / Overlocker is a special machine but you can interlock with sewing machine.
Conclusion - Buyers' guide
It is normal that you get overwhelmed looking at the types of sewing machines with huge number of features.
To simplify the process of selecting a product, write down your present requirement, budget and long term use.
If you are still in doubt, buy the best sewing machine your money can get and learn to work with it. You can upgrade your machine later, when you are more confident with basic stitching.
Though, some old people suggest that Mechanical sewing machines are best for beginners because these are inexpensive.
But it depends. If you want embroidery designing along with sewing, you will need an automatic sewing machine.
Even though, treadle and hand-operated machine can be converted to a motorized stitching machine by fixing a motor, but there is a huge difference between a half shuttle and full shuttle stitching machine.
As I explained earlier, an electric industrial full shuttle machine's mechanics and durability would be much more than a half shuttle domestic stitching machine.
I hope this post helps you differentiate between various types of sewing machines and understand them better.
Do you find this information useful?
Please let us know your views in the comment section below.
5 Best Sewing Machines: A Valued Gift for Mother’s Day – Gift for your mom that would bring a smile on her face and joyful tears in her eyes.