Have you ever wondered how they make furniture? How do they cover the wood with such thick material and manage to stitch it? Of course, you might already know the answer. We’ve seen many shows on the television where they show how things are made.
Most of you would know that there are special sewing machines that are used for upholstery. Leather, velvet, rexine, etc. are thicker and stronger materials. The regular sewing machine cannot stitch through these. And when you’ve got to add more than one layer, it’s plain impossible. The needle will break. The motor will start troubling.
But a heavy-duty sewing machine can handle such jobs. They are the industrial models that are capable of being workhorses, which slog through the day. Not all of us need to buy an upholstery sewing machine.
But what if you need one? How should you buy an upholstery sewing machine? Which factors should you consider when making the decision? Can a beginner use these heavy-duty machines?
So many questions, right? But there’s no need to worry. We’ve got answers to all of them and more. We compiled a list of the top 5 best sewing machines for upholstery and explained each machine in detail.
We also have a buying guide in the second half of the post. You can go through the post and understand how upholstery sewing machines work and which ones are suitable for beginners.
Table of Contents
The Best Sewing Machines For Upholstery For The Money
#1 Juki TL-2010Q Portable Sewing Machine - EDITOR'S CHOICE
Juki has some of the most expensive models. But each of them is worth the price. TL-2010Q is one such example. With a sturdy build and powerful motor, the sewing machine is great for working on upholstery projects at home. It is not computerized and has very few components that are fragile or delicate. From a bright LED light to controls for adjusting the stitches, this model offers an array of features and accessories. Let’s take a look at them in detail.
Features & Benefits
TL-2010Q is the heaviest model on our list. It is almost 38 pounds and is made of aluminum. The manufacturer calls it portable even though it is not easy to move the machine around. That’s because compared to the actual heavy-duty machines (the industrial variants), this one is indeed lightweight. The weight allows the machine to be steady when you stitch through layers of thick materials.
Durability is the biggest advantage of this machine. It can last for a long, long time. The unit has a knee lift that makes it easy for you to lift the presser foot without using your hands. The bobbin has to be loaded from the side. This might be a little hard if you are used to the drop-in variants.
An important aspect of an upholstery machine is the height of the presser foot. You can raise the foot to 12 mm height, which allows you to place thick layers of fabrics for stitching. The machine comes with a thread cutter, so that’s another thing you don’t have to worry about.
The reverse stitch lever is highly convenient to reinforce the stitches without much effort. The model has a 1500 SPM speed. It is meant for professional use, of course. But you can adjust the speed and bring it down using the speed controller. You can set the particular speed you want to work with. The lowest is 200 SPM.
Ease of Use
We wouldn’t say this is a super easy model to use. But it is worth the time and effort you spend to understand and learn the operations. You can fine-tune each feature to suit your exact requirements. This level of customization isn’t usually possible even with the computerized variants.
You can change the stitch length and width with ease. You can use the LED light to work even in dim-lit areas. You can stitch numerous thicker fabrics using this model. From fur to leather to canvas and rubber, you won’t find any difficulty in stitching. We should also add a word about the marvelous stitching quality of the machine. It’s just perfect for professional use.
#2 Janome MOD-30 Computerized Sewing Machine - Best for The Price
Almost every one of you might have heard of Janome. It is one of the famous brands of sewing machines in the market. MOD-30 is a computerized model that is easy for beginners and also caters to home professionals. From quilting to sewing to even a little embroidering, this machine serves various purposes. And yes, upholstery too. The machine doesn’t have a really high stitching speed. It stops at 820 SPM. But that is not too slow either. The model offers attractive features and is totally worth the price you pay for it. In fact, you get to use some high-end features for an affordable price.
Features & Benefits
If Juki TL-2010Q is the heaviest model on the list, Janome MOD-30 is the lightest. It is just 12.7 pounds and can be easily moved from one place to another. Despite the lack of weight, the machine is steady enough when you stitch through thick fabrics. That’s because the unit is made of metal.
The manufacturer says that the machine doesn’t make much noise. But we did notice that it gets a bit louder at times. Not loud enough to annoy you, but it is not as silent as it is supposed to be. Being a computerized model, the machine comes with an LCD display screen where you can see and set the stitch type you want. You can override the automatic options by setting your own measurements for the length and width of the stitches.
MOD-30 does deliver the results it promises. You can adjust the stitching speed and bring it down to a convenient level. The auto-declutch bobbin winder is a wonderful feature. It prevents the bobbin from being over-winded and thereby avoids a potential error that can damage the machine.
It also has an automatic needle threader. But the manufacturer ended up complicating it. You’ll have to spend some time trying to understand how it works. Apart from that, using the rest of the features is quite easy. You don’t have to guess the stitch settings for various materials. The machine will do it for you.
Ease of Use
The machine comes with a storage compartment to help you store the accessories like scissors, bobbins, presser feet, needles, etc. You can make use of the built-in stitches to create designer patterns on the projects and give them a professional look. It also has buttonholes, but these are not suitable for all kinds of buttons. You’ve got to double-check the size before using the feature.
That said, the work area of the machine is quite spacious and allows you to work on larger projects. It also allows free motion quilting. One biggest plus point is the user manual that comes with the machine. It is highly detailed and even illustrated to help you understand every operation.
#3 SINGER Curvy 8763 Computerized Free-Arm Handy Sewing Machine - Best for Beginners
Singer Curvy 8763 is the same yet different from other models. This one has a (semi) computerized panel on the inside that makes it easy for beginners to use and operate the machine. It also works for home professionals on a limited budget. The interface on the side is detailed and easy to use. There is no LCD display screen, but you won’t need it. The buttons and levers are convenient enough for you to understand without too much stress.
Features & Benefits
Curvy 8763 is neither heavy nor lightweight. However, it does fall into the lightweight category at 17 pounds. The machine is made of metal and has been built to last for a long time. The manufacturer took pains to make it look good, especially compared to some other models from the same brand.
It has only 6 built-in stitches, but they are varied enough for you to try them on different projects. You can work on both thinner and thicker fabrics with this machine. We can say that this model is not exclusively made for upholstery, but it can handle heavy projects without any issue.
The features are the highlight of this model. The automatic needle threader is simple, useful, and effective. The model has a three-thread mock system that allows you to adjust the fabric, especially the ones resistant to stretching. Considering the price of this machine, we must admit that this feature is a bonus.
The machine also has a four-thread stitch where it uses more than one strand of thread to add strength to the stitch and prevent the thread from snapping and breaking under pressure. The unit comes with not one or two but three LED lights. Isn’t that great? You can work even in a dark room by turning on these lights.
Ease of Use
The stitching speed of the model is 1300 SPM. While it does seem high, the motor is not capable enough to handle the speed for long. You will actually be using the sewing machine at a lesser speed that is convenient and safe for beginners.
The drop-in bobbin system is easy and effective. The stitch quality is more than decent. The model is aimed more at beginners (we’ve noticed that, didn’t we?). So if you are a professional, this may not be the right choice for you. But if you are a beginner learning to work on upholstery, this is a highly suitable choice. Also, the unit comes with a DVD user manual. That’s good, isn’t it?
#4 Brother PQ1500SL Sewing and Quilting Machine - Best Auto Upholstery Sewing Machine
A professional needs a professional machine, right? And upholstery is more often professional work rather than a casual hobby. PQ1500SL by Brother is yet another professional sewing and quilting machine that can handle large projects with great ease. The durability of the machine is reflected in the 25-year limited warranty offered by the brand. This model is not as pricey as some of the high-end variants but provides the same level of features.
Features & Benefits
The unit weighs above 30 pounds (32.9 to be exact) and is built to last. It is sturdy and can sustain the stitching speed of 1500 SPM. People who take up upholstery and quilting projects regularly will find this useful and convenient. You can control the speed using the foot pedal. The pedal is sensitive to touch. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage.
If you are a newbie, the sensitive touch might take a while to get used to. You need to practice to identify the right amount of pressure you should use for the stitching speed you require. The machine also has a built-in knee lever that allows hands-free operations.
Among the various attractive features such as the automatic needle threader, we have a feed dog height adjustment feature that enables you to adjust the height in four stages. And yes, you also have the free arm quilting feature.
The model has a pin feed mechanism where you can exchange the feed dogs for a pin. This feature is mostly used when quilting as it allows you to move and adjust the different layers of the material without getting the marks of the feet on it. What’s more, you can adjust the thread tension using the dial on the side.
Ease of Use
The main attraction of this model is the accessories that come with it-
Adjustable zipper, rolled hem, spring action quilting, invisible zipper, a set of needles, knee lifter, high shank, ballpoint needle, 5 metal bobbins, feed pin changer, fabric separator, spool cushion, spool cap, cleaning brush, seam guide, and 2 screwdrivers.
The bobbin case is on the side rather than on the top. But professionals would be used to work with it either way. The advantage this model has is that the location of the bobbin case is really convenient, unlike some other side-loading machines. And finally, maintaining this machine is easy. It has small oil holes so that you can oil the parts without opening the unit and taking it apart.
#5 Juki HZL-LB5020 Computerized Sewing Machine - Best Entry-Level Model
If Juki TL2010Q falls into the expensive category, this one belongs to the affordable range. It is a computerized sewing machine that is good for quilting and upholstery. It is sturdy despite being a lightweight model. The stitching quality is as great as every other Juki model. Also, the machine doesn’t make much noise. The manufacturer offers a 2-year warranty for electrical parts and a 5-year warranty for mechanical parts.
Features & Benefits
The model looks compact and durable, which it is. It has an LCD display screen towards the top and a detailed stitch chart on the side. Being a computerized variant, the machine will tell you which stitch and presser foot to use based on the type of material you are using for the project.
The sewn machine is powerful enough to take full control over denim and leather materials so that the stitch is even in length and has a high-quality finish. The motor is strong enough to handle the workload of home professionals.
The sewing machine has a bright LED light that makes it easy to work in dim-lit areas. It comes with an automatic needle threader so that you don’t have to strain your eyes each time to thread the needle. The machine starts threading with a single touch of a button. Just sit for a few seconds, and it’ll be done.
One advantage of this model is that it is easily portable. Beginners who are attending sewing classes can carry the machine to the class and bring it back home without too much effort.
Ease of Use
The model has 20 built-in stitches, which can be used to add decorative patterns to the project. Just look at the designs mentioned on the side and select them using the buttons. The model has a stitching speed of 700 SPM. While professionals find this less, beginners are more than happy with it. The user manual is detailed and explains every feature offered by the model.
One issue we have with this model is that the presser foot cannot be adjusted. Also, there is no extension table in case you want to increase the work area. But these are minor disadvantages compared to the features it offers.
Best Sewing Machine For Upholstery Buying Guide
You might have known by now that the upholstery sewing machine is different from the regular model. The following are the main differences you will notice-
- Versatility: An upholstery sewing machine is more versatile as it allows you to take up various kinds of projects. You don’t need to worry about the thickness of the materials or the complexity of the project. From couches to bags to tents, you can sew anything.
- Speed: These are industrial models that come with faster stitching speed. How else can you finish heavy projects on time?
- Heavy Duty: This is the obvious difference, isn’t it? The upholstery machine has an industrial needle and a powerful motor. These ensure that the machine can effortlessly stitch through multiple layers of thick materials.
Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Sewing Machine for Upholstery
The Length and Width of the Stitch
This is a feature we find useful in regular sewing machines, don’t we? The same goes for upholstery models as well. Being able to adjust the length and width of the stitches adds more flexibility and thereby brings more creativity to the projects. Your final products will look professional and perfect.
Thicker materials need to be stretched and held tight when stitching. Having a walking foot mechanism will make it easy to control the fabric’s movement. Most heavy-duty sewing machines come with walking foot attachments. But it’s still a good idea to double-check the feature.
We don’t have to really explain this feature, right? An upholstery industrial sewing machine will invariably have a heavy-duty motor that generates more power. The motor is attached to the body of the machine using a pulley. It has a wheel that generates power. A smaller wheel is more powerful even though the larger ones seem to be moving faster.
The stitching speed of industrial sewing machines is usually high. That’s because they are designed to handle the heavy workload faced by professionals. While some models allow us to adjust the stitching speed and bring it down (especially useful for beginners), other models do not have the option.
The work area is the space around the needle and the bottom part of the sewing machine. The more space for you to work, the easier it’ll be to fit bigger projects. Some models provide an extension table that can be attached and removed as required. This also saves space when you are working in confined rooms.
Body Frame and Stability of the Machine
Upholstery sewing machines have to be stronger and durable. They are made using quality components and tend to be bulky and heavy. Some upholstery machines are huge and occupy a lot of space. They cannot be moved from one place to another without putting in some effort.
Weight and Dimensions of the Machine
We did say that industrial sewing machines are on the heavier side. But some models are compact and pack a punch. It depends on your usage, workflow, and the location where you work. Measure the place and then decide how often you will need to move the sewing machine. If there is no reason to change its position, you can go for the larger models without any qualms.
Number of Built-in Stitches
Even upholstery sewing machines come with built-in stitches and designs. These can be used to make the end product beautiful and attractive. Think of those patterns that highlight the stitches on couches and handbags.
Some models offer options than others. But some brands have only one straight stitch. Does that mean we do not buy those models? Of course not. It depends on whether you actually need the built-in stitches or not. It depends on the type of projects you work on.
Additional Features and Accessories
LED lights, extra set of industrial needles, hard case, free arm, extra presser feet, etc. are some accessories and features that brands offer to attract more customers. While the features may wary, a sewing machine with an LED light is quite useful.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Are you still not sure which model to choose? Do you need a little more help? In that case, we would recommend Juki TL2010Q portable sewing machine that is best for home users and professionals.
We’ve discussed the features and benefits in detail to understand that the model is highly efficient, durable, reliable, and trustworthy. Juki TL-2010Q is surely the best sewing machine upholstery and worth the price you pay for it.