Best Sewing Machine for Thick Fabric

Last Updated: August 10, 2023 by Philip Williams

Sewing on leather canvas or polyurethane fabrics may seem like an easy job. But if you don’t have the right sewing machine, then it will be everything but effortless. That’s why we always recommend the best sewing machine for thick fabric when it comes to working with stiff materials. Be it leather or polyester, a jacket or a handbag, we know exactly what type of machine you need.

Below, we’re going over a set of high-end sewing machines for this purpose. If you want to learn everything they offer and pick the ideal model for your needs – then keep scrolling!

We spent hours looking for sewing machines that met our standards. Most of them were terrible and unreliable. Others didn’t effort the right features. And some of them didn’t even go through the thinnest leather fabrics – so we overlooked them.

But we found 3 that did the job really well. These sewing machines captivated us in many different ways. So we had to review each accordingly. Below is everything you need to know about them:

1. SINGER 4411 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine – Best Overall


You want quality on top of everything else. That’s why we decided that the 4411 heavy duty sewing machine for leather from Singer was our best option.

If you’re not trying to waste any more time looking for the right model, then go for this one. It comes with everything you could expect a high-quality sewing machine to offer.

This includes 9 modes so you can repair and mean leather as well as craft and even produce unique stitches on thick fabrics. It is all possible to the 1,100 stitches-per-minute capacity. You get enough SPM to go through any fabric smoothly and without any punch-back.

Even then, you get tons of different stitching modes as well, perfect for basic results, decorating fabrics, or even creating buttonholes. There won’t be a limit to what you can achieve with this machine.

And if all that doesn’t meet your standards, you also get several practical features like an adjustable needle position, an adjustable presser foot, and a quality set of bobbins with a drop-feed. You’ll have the whole package for an exciting sewing experience.

Apart from all that, the machine boasts a heavy-duty metal frame that lasts a lifetime. But more importantly, it lets you work with high stability and little room for error.

Key Features (Specifications)

  • Stitches: 11 Built-In
  • Stitching Speed: 1,100 SPM
  • Size (LxWxH): 15. 5 x 6. 25 x 12 Inches
  • Weight:  14.5 Pounds
  • Warranty: 25 Years

Why do we Like it?

  • It is small and portable
  • Will last a lifetime
  • Stitches thick & thin materials
  • Requires little effort to use
  • Makes stitches of all kinds

Our Verdict

Instead of getting an overly complicated model that becomes a headache to use, the Singer 4411 gets the job done with little effort. Stitching leather with this model is a total pleasure.

2. Brother ST371HD Strong & Tough Sewing Machine – Best for Budget

Brother ST371HD

If you’re trying to find the best heavy duty sewing machine that doesn’t empty out your wallet, then you’ll find the ST371HD from Brother an excellent choice.

Despite being a budget model, this one comes with fantastic features to enjoy. This starts with 37 built-in stitches, so you can create anything from decorative graphics to buttonholes.

Another excellent feature to enjoy is the needle threader. It works automatically alongside the drop-in bobbin, so you can save time and effort while operating the machine.

For those who want to work on large and small projects at the same time, the free-arm design will help them enormously.

And for convenience seekers, nothing works better than the fantastic array of extras it offers – including 6 feet for sewing, a manual, an instructional DVD, and even extra bobbins.

You’ll get the whole package for a very decent cost. So there won’t be a single thing to worry about with this piece.

Key Features (Specifications)

  • Stitches: 37 Built-In
  • Stitching Speed: 850 SPM
  • Size (LxWxH): 16 x 7.9 x 12.2 Inches
  • Weight: 18.4 Pounds
  • Warranty: 25 Years

Why do we Like it?

  • Comes with handy extras
  • Works in all kinds of jobs
  • Makes threading super-easy
  • Has a small but practical design
  • Doesn’t empty your bank account

Our Verdict

For those who want a sewing machine that does it all without hitting their wallet, then the ST371HD from Brother is the way to go. It’s a small but magnificently useful machine for the money.

3. Janome HD3000: Premium Choice

Janome HD3000
Janome HD3000

So you’re a quality seeker who doesn’t want any less than the best among the best. In that case, the heavy duty sewing machine for canvas from Janome will come like a perfect choice.

The HD3000 is a sewing machine that goes through the thickest fabrics (leather, canvas, upholstery, etc.), while still offering tons of different features for practical experience.

Some of the most important features worth mentioning include an 18-stitch system, a one-step buttonhole, a needle threader, a snap-on presser foot, and even a push-pull bobbin winder. Together, they don’t only make it a piece of cake to use but also add tons of extra functionality to the piece.

But there’s a lot more to enjoy. A reverse stitch lever, for example, will make it a much more convenient piece. This matches well with the sewing light, so you can use it in dark areas. And with the free arm system, you can achieve superb sleeves and hems without any mistake.

The machine even comes with a super-helpful carrying case so you can bring it around and a manual so you can learn how to use it in hours.

When you look at the price, you may think it is too expensive. But after you consider everything it offers, the sewing machine will feel cheap.

Key Features (Specifications)

  • Stitches: 18 Built-In
  • Stitching Speed: 1800 SPM
  • Size (LxWxH): 19 x 10 x 15 Inches
  • Warranty: 25 Years
  • Weight: 18.7 Pounds

Why do we Like it?

  • Offers tons of feature for any purpose
  • Works with most thick fabrics
  • Requires little effort to master
  • Lets you work on dark areas
  • Boasts a practical carrying case

Our Verdict

Even though you get a slightly expensive machine, it gets the job done like no other in the list. If you don’t want to be short of features when sewing, then you’ll love how well the Janome HD3000 works.

How to Pick a Sewing Machine for Thick Fabric?

Everyone wants the best sewing machine for thick fabric, but few know what it really means to get that.

This is why we’ve decided to make a brief guide on how to pick the right sewing machine. If you’re looking to learn everything there’s to know about these machines before making a last choice – then the guide below will help you enormously:

Types of Stitches

A heavy-duty machine doesn’t have to be a simple product. Even though it can handle thick fabrics like leather and canvas, you also want it to make different stitches.

That’s why we heavily recommend going for a sewing machine with at least 10 different stitches to play with. From decorating to straight, zig-zag, and others – the more stitches available, the better.

Stitching Speed

The best sewing machine for upholstery fabric is not the one that stitches harder, but the one that can adapt to the fabric.

What does this mean? Well, there’s something called stitches-per-minute (SPM). It measures how many stitches the machine can make every 60 seconds. And in most sewing machines, this is something you can adjust.

That’s why you’ll want a high-enough SPM measurement so you can pierce through fabrics well, but you also want it to achieve low speeds, so it can go through thick fabrics smoothly.

We recommend models that can reach at least 800 SPM if you want to get the job done fast. If you can adjust the stitching speed according to the fabric you’re using, then that’s even better. 

Ease of Use

A heavy duty sewing machine for canvas doesn’t have to be a bother to use. Actually, it should be a lot easier because you’re working with stiffer materials.

That’s why nothing works better for making your sewing easier than a wide array of controls, levers, and adjustments that you can use to reduce your output.

A responsive foot pedal, easy-to-wind bobbin, and a practical needle adjustment system are must-haves with sewing machines, especially heavy-duty models. 

Build & Durability

Apart from getting the most practical and useful model, you also want the most durable sewing machine. That’s why looking for high-quality constructions like steel can be an excellent idea.

The frame build is not everything, though. A set of quality parts, components, and hardware also get the job done. You can achieve a longer lifespan if everything on the sewing machine is made to last.

Extra Features

By now, you should be ready to pick a quality sewing machine that gets the job done no matter what you throw at it. But even then, some extra features could make it even better. These include:

Automatic Button Holder

Don’t dial or turn the fabric around. An automatic button holder lets you sew a button fast and easily.

Automatic Needle Threader

Stop wasting minutes while threading the needle in the middle of the job. An automatic threader makes it happen in just seconds.

Free Arm Design

The best sewing machine for outdoor gear lets you make intricate stitches on the sleeves or your shirt or hems of your pants. 

Feed-Dog Adjustment

Need to achieve a more customized stitching experience? Then having the chance to adjust the feed dog is a must-have.   

Needle Position

The best sewing machine for leather handbags will help you change the position of your needle. You won’t have to worry about sewing intricate objects with this feature.


A set of LED lights on the sewing area will make your sewing a lot easier when light is low. This is especially useful if you don’t have much artificial light to work with.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Let’s say you went through our reviews and buying guide, but you’re still confused about a thing or two regarding sewing machines. In that case, you may find our next section ideal for relieving those doubts.

Which is the best sewing machine for sew thick material and leather?

The best sewing machine for heavy fabrics is the SINGER 4411 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine without a doubt. It handles everything you throw at it without breaking the bank.

What sewing machine needle should I use for thick fabric?

You should use 16/100 or 14/90 needles with a wedge or regular point. Most of these needles are sold as heavy-duty or leather needles, so there’s almost no chance of getting the wrong one.

What tension should I use for thick fabric?

When using a sewing machine for thick material, the tension should be placed depending on the thickness of the needle and the desired purpose. Often, tight tension is the best idea if you’re looking for maximum strength on the stitching. But it depends on your desired results as well.

How do you push a needle through thick fabric?

A heavy-duty sewing machine will do the job for you, so there’s no need to push the needle through the fabric manually.

Wrapping Up

So you’ve taken a look at our reviews, learned everything you could with our buying guide, and removed your doubts with your FAQ section. Now it’s time to make your last choice. Getting the best sewing machine for thick fabric won’t be easy. But if you follow our advice, then it will be a lot easier.

Don’t hesitate to go back and re-read anything in this article. Be sure you’re well-aware of everything before making your last decision. If you do that, you won’t regret it.

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