Best upholstery sewing machines that will unleash your creativity.
Upholstery sewing is a specialized craft that makes heavy demands on a sewing machine, that's why it's paramount to have the best upholstery sewing machine.
I know the feeling when you are desperate for a machine that is capable of executing special sewing techniques unique to upholstering and home decorating, and you can't find any. It's terrible!
Let's find that machine for you.
Why do you need a specialized upholstery sewing machine?
While regular home sewing machines are fine for garment fabrics and most quilting, upholstery fabrics require a machine with enough power to handle multiple, heavy layers at a reasonable speed.
If you sew slowly, a regular machine may work for an occasional small project, but serious upholstery work requires a machine made for heavy duty.
What features should an upholstery machine have?
An even feed presser foot, also known as a “walking foot” is important.
This feature means the foot helps pull the layers of fabric at an even rate through the machine.
Without this feature, top and bottom layers may slip or feed through the machine at different rates, giving uneven edges to the finished work.
A motor with enough power for sewing heavy fabrics at high speeds is another essential feature.
Choices are a regular clutch motor, which requires some practice to operate smoothly, or a servo motor, which allows for easy adjusting of sewing speed.
A servo motor is quieter than a clutch motor.
Other features to look for
Other features that make sewing easier include a reverse function, which can minimize turning heavy projects, and a convenient, top-loading bobbin.
Some machines also take larger bobbins, meaning the bobbin must be changed less often—allowing for long stretches of uninterrupted sewing.
What're the professionals' recommendations?
The best sewing machine for auto upholstery and heavy-duty fabric furnishings is the Consew 206RB-5 industrial sewing machine with walking foot, servo motor and table, (Check availability via Amazon.)
If you have the budget and space for this machine, you will be equipped to handle leather, auto upholstery, canvas for marine applications, and any upholstered furniture work you want.
The maximum stitch length of 10mm and a 14mm high presser foot lift will accommodate the most heavy-duty sewing you can conceive.
This could be the only machine you will ever need for home, auto, and marine upholstery sewing.
What are the other machines good for upholstery?
If your budget is limited, you can still get a quality industrial machine that handles all upholstery fabrics. Check the availability of Sailrite heavy-duty walking foot ultrafeed sewing machine (Via Amazon.)
The maximum stitch length of 6 mm, and a 9.525 mm high presser foot lift are not as good as comes with the Consew 206RB-5, but you don't have to spend as much as you would with the Consew.
Given the price difference, you can still sew up to 10 layers of the heavy canvas using the straight stitch or zigzag stitch. That's fantastic, isn't it?
The walking foot keeps those layers of heavy duty fabric moving evenly and smoothly under the needle for consistent stitch quality.
Can I get away with the basic Industrial machines for upholstery?
If you are not planning to work with the heaviest leathers or layers of sturdy marine canvas, several industrial sewing machines that will suffice for medium to lighter sewing.
These machines do not include a walking foot and are not recommended for automobile upholstery purposes.
A plus with these machines is their usefulness for non-upholstery sewing as well.
The Singer industrial straight stitch sewing machine 191D-30 is ideal for medium to heavy fabrics (Check availability via Amazon.)
Customer reviews are mixed for the use of this model with the heavier leathers—skill of sewist is indeed a factor when operating any machine at the upper limits of its capabilities.
This Singer upholstery sewing machine offers great value and power for multiple purposes.
Juki DDL-8700 Industrial machine (Amazon link) is the fastest of the industrial machines reviewed in this section, at a blistering pace of 5500 stitches per minute at top speed.
A servo motor allows quiet operation even at this high speed. Juki DDL-8700 is engineered to minimize vibration and noise.
This machine has no walking foot but is excellent for fast production on all but the heaviest fabrics or leathers.
It does straight stitch only, no zigzag, with a maximum stitch length of 5mm.
Juki DU-1181 Industrial machine (link via Amazon) offers top and bottom feed for even seaming of layers.
Its top speed is still a respectable 2000 stitches per minute, fast enough for most operators.
A quiet servo motor and long, 9mm maximum stitch length are additional features of this excellent quality industrial machine.
If you sew projects with multiple layers of medium-weight fabrics, this could be your ideal machine.
What is the best budget sewing machine for lighter upholstery work?
If you want a portable, lightweight, general purpose machine that will still handle some home decorating such as light upholstery fabrics, consider the Janome HD3000 (link via Amazon).
If your projects are draperies, throw pillows, and slipcovers, HD3000 will handle them. Do not expect to do automobile upholstery, however.
Customer reviews report this machine is sturdier than many home sewing machines, with metal presser feet instead of plastic.
They also report excellent results sewing denim jeans and other heavy duty garment fabrics.
HD3000 comes with a hard carrying case.
Recommendations for the budget sewing machine for upholstery
For the creative sewer with a tight budget, the Janome HD3000 is the best for those with limited sewing space who need to store a machine while not in use.
However, the Singer 191D-30 will cost a little more and has industrial power and features, giving more options to the operator who has space for an industrial machine with a table.
Recommendation for auto upholstery and heavy duty
While the Consew machine is definitely the choice of professionals, the Sailrite is about half the price.
The Sailrite machine also includes the essential features for upholstery, including a walking foot. Why pay more unless you are operating a full-time business?
Check the availability of Sailrite ultrafeed LSZ-1 from Amazon.
After going through all these sewing machines for upholstery, we can say that all the machines reviewed are quality machines with good reliability and support from manufacturers.
Your decision should be based on the work you plan to do with the machine, your available sewing space, and your budget.
Keep in mind that industrial machines generally arrive already assembled with extra-large tables.
Be sure to check the dimensions of your chosen machine before ordering to be sure you have adequate floor space for the table as well as clearance around the edges when you place the table in your sewing room.
If your machine of choice has a servo motor, the noise will not be a problem. For clutch motor machines, be sure you can locate the machine where a bit of extra noise is not a problem.
Congratulations on taking up the challenge and the pleasure of sewing your own upholstery! The right machine will make your work pleasant and productive.
If you are looking for something else, here are the related articles:
The best options for sewing canvas has been discussed already.
We've also talked about the leather machines in a separate article.
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