Different Type of Sewing Machines and their Uses

Last Updated: August 10, 2023 by Philip Williams

Buying a new sewing machine may seem like a job for experienced users. But it’s not. You can get the ideal model as long as you know about the different type of sewing machines available.

That’s why we want to show and explain to you all about them. You’re going to learn what they do, how they function, and how you can pick the ideal one accordingly.

Whether it is for personal use at home, for commercial use at a business, or even to give as a gift to an enthusiast tailor – you’ll find the perfect sewing machine on this list.

Quick List: All Types of Sewing Machine

We’re going to separate them in industrial sewing machines and domestic sewing machines. Then, we’re going to explain their types by function. Want to learn a little more about them? Then take a look:

Types of Industrial Sewing MachinesTypes of Domestic Sewing MachinesTypes of Sewing Machines by Functions
1. Flat-Bed Sewing Machine1. Manual Sewing Machine1. Lock Stitch Sewing Machine
2. Post-Bed Sewing Machine2. Electronic Sewing Machine2. Over-Edging Sewing Machine
3. Cylinder-Bed Sewing Machine3. Computerized Sewing Machine3. Embroidery Sewing Machine
4. Off-the-Arm Sewing Machine4. Overlocking Sewing Machine4. Button Holler Sewing Machine
5. Bar Tacking Sewing Machine
6. Double-Needle Sewing Machine
7. Chain stitch Sewing machine
All Types of Sewing Machine List

Industrial Sewing Machines

Industrial Sewing Machine
Industrial Sewing Machine

An industrial sewing machine can handle heavy-duty sewing jobs like webbing Nylon, making waistbands in jeans, shirt cuffs, and other tricky deeds that simple machines can’t do.

These sewing machines also have high-quality components and motor pieces. They’re designed to handle everyday jobs for years without breaking down.

Characteristics of Industrial Sewing Machines:

  • Most of the parts are made of high-grade aluminium or cast-iron. From the housings to the bodies, rods, and even the needles and other internal mechanisms are built to last.
  • Another common characteristic is the size. Compared to domestic machines, commercial ones are usually 50% larger. A heavy-duty model can be twice or thrice as large, especially the ones used in high-volume manufacturing companies.
  • Due to their size, they can sometimes offer several functions at once, making them more practical.
  • And with this size, you also get higher power – so they can work with fabrics that other less powerful machines can’t. Their power comes from their high-end motor. The motor is called a Clutch Motor.

What is a Clutch Motor?

Clutch Motor
Clutch Motor

This motor is always running and making noises as long as it is connected to electricity. The constant operation ensures consistency and speed.

A clutch motor is a better choice in situations where it is crucial to stay sewing for several hours non-stop. At the same time, it has higher power, so it can work with thicker materials that less powerful motors can’t.

That’s why it is the ideal choice for industrial sewing machines. It is also large and heavy. And sure enough, it is also super-expensive. That’s it’s rare to find commercial sewing machine with portable designs.

Types of Industrial Sewing Machines

Industrial Sewing Machines Diagram
Industrial Sewing Machines Diagram

So you know what an industrial sewing machine is, how it works, and what motor it uses. But that’s not everything. You also need to learn about the different sub-types it offers. Here are some of them:

1. Flat-Bed Sewing Machine

It is the most popular of all industrial kinds of sewing machine. The focus of this type of sewing tool is to sew flat pieces of fabrics together. 

A flat-bed sewing machine uses an arm that goes up and down with the needle. The operator needs to move the fabric for the flat-bed machine to do its job.

2. Post-Bed Sewing Machine

The design if a post-bed is perfect for attaching emblems, badges, logos, and other difficult-to-sew pieces of fabrics to clothes and accessories.

It has a variable-height column sewing component, and instead of a needle, it uses bobbins and feed-dogs. In some cases, it may use loopers.

3. Cylinder-Bed Sewing Machine

A cylinder model uses a similar design to a flat-bed system, but instead of an arm, it uses a cylinder. This cylinder can vary depending on the size of the machine.

The purpose of post-bed machines is to create cuffs and other cylindrical parts of clothes, sew shoes, and even saddles.

4. Off-the-Arm Sewing Machine

The least common among industrial sewing machines – an off-the-arm model focuses on sewing shoulders, sleeves, pant knees, and other parts of clothes that demand versatility.

It uses a feeder and a horizontal axis to move the fabric across its thin bed. This makes it easier to achieve more complicated seams.

Domestic Sewing Machines

Domestic Sewing Machine
Domestic Sewing Machine

Among the different types of sewing machines, there are domestic ones. In contrast with commercial models, these ones are more portable, offer lighter designs, and usually don’t take much space.

Characteristics of Domestic Sewing Machines:

  • They perform almost every task imaginable, but at a slower speed and with more fragile material.
  • These machines are usually made of aluminium with a few cast-iron parts. They tend to be as long-lasting or even more than commercial models. But they can’t handle the same amount of work.
  • A domestic model can handle about 5 hours of consistent work at once. After that, it may overheat.
  • That’s why these are ideal for household use and people who don’t need to sew for deadlines.
  • Domestic sewing machines use a servo motor that only works with the hit of a pedal. 

What is a Servo Motor?

Servo Motor

This type of motor uses less electricity than a clutch motor. It doesn’t make any sound unless the operator hits the pedal on the machine, but it doesn’t withstand the same kind of use.

A servo motor is an ideal choice for low-volume manufacturing, tailoring of dresses, and in places that prefer quality over quantity. Similarly, a servo motor is more common in sewing machines that favour accuracy, but also ones that don’t demand continuous operation.

You may also find a servo motor is modifiable to make it easier for beginners to learn how to use a domestic sewing machine.

Types of Domestic Sewing Machines

Domestic Sewing Machines Diagram
Domestic Sewing Machines Diagram

Just like industrial models, domestic machines also come with some sub-types. Here are some of them:

1. Manual Sewing Machine

A manual sewing machine is probably the most basic but also most popular among all sewing machines.

Boasting a single small motor that doesn’t consume much electricity, it manages to sew things swiftly and effectively. However, a manual sewer doesn’t have as many features as computerized or electronic models.

Some manual sewing machines offer a mechanical system that many people sought after. They may require more work to sew with (so they’re not ideal for beginners), but they can achieve most light jobs. Still, they only work with light garments and fabrics that don’t demand too much power. 

2. Electronic Sewing Machine

An electronic sewing machine has a single servo motor. The motor on this machine is usually larger than a manual model, so it consumes much more electricity.

But with the larger motor, electronic sewing machines can also provide faster sewing and higher strength to work with medium-weight and heavy-weight materials.

Most of these electronic sewing machines are configurable and easy-to-control. Still, it requires the user to have basic knowledge of sewing machines to operate.

3. Computerized Sewing Machine

A computerized model can handle almost every job a manual, and an electronic model can handle, but with little to no output from the user.

In contrast with an electronic or mechanical sewing machine, this machine requires no skills to work. It is only necessary to place the fabrics properly and adjust to the right type of sewing as needed.

You will find these computerized models with LED or LCD screens, several buttons for options, and built-in memory. They may even allow USB connections to bring designs and patterns directly from digital files.

Computerized models, however, are pretty expensive. And depending on their size, they may or not work with different types of materials.

4. Overlocking Sewing Machine

Last but not least, in domestic sewing machines, you’ll find overlocking models.

While manual, electronic, and computerized models may work for a wide array of uses – overlocker machines are more oriented towards seaming, hemming, and edging.

This happens because they come with internal cutters that get rid of edges. At the same time, they can work with thick and heavy materials, and can handle a lot of work at once.

Another difference is that they don’t provide the same kind of typical sewing results. Using several individual threads and needles at once, they can create overcast stitches as well. But that’s about everything they offer.

Most overlocker sewing machines are used alongside other types of domestic sewing machines because they work more effectively for over-edging, over-locking, and creating seams.

Sewing Machines Types by Function

Sewing Machines Types by Function Diagram
Sewing Machines Types by Function Diagram

Now, we’re going to explain the different types of sewing machines and their functions. This will help you learn how they’re described depending on what they do.

It’s important to mention that some sewing machines offer two or more of these functions at once. So you may get different types of results with the same sewing machine.

Without much further to explain, here are sewing machines by function:

1. Lock Stitch Sewing Machine

A lockstitch sewing machine uses two threads (one upper and one lower) to create inter-locking sews.

This creates pretty strong stitches that not only attach fabrics together firmly but also provide good-looking results.

Lock-stitch sewing machines are pretty popular and among the most popular. In fact, most domestic sewing machines use the lock-stitch system to sew.

Lock stitches can be in zig-zag, straight, blind, stretch, or decorative. And they use one or two types of threads at once.

These machines are usually domestic, but industrial ones may also offer this lock-stich system.

2. Over-Edging Sewing Machine

The over-edging sewing machine is the same as the overlocking. It either pieces two fabrics together by creating an edge or hem or produces seams directly by cutting its corners.

In short, an over-edging sewing machine creates edges in fabrics. Just like overlocking sewing machines, these can run with several threads at once to create unique seams and hems, as well as decorations and other difficult sews.

An over-edging sewing machine can be ideal for both industrial and domestic use.

3. Embroidery Sewing Machine

An embroidery machine sews threads into fabrics of all kinds to produce patterns and/or graphics.

These sewing machines can also be computerized, providing a wide array of patterns and graphic options. They may also work with both light and heavy fabrics.

The most cutting-edge embroidery sewing machines come with USB ports, auto-threading, touch-screen, design software, and more.

These are usually designed for commercial use.

4. Button Holler / Attachments Sewing Machine

Making a hole in a piece of fabric for a button is not easy. That’s why there are sewing machines specially designed for that.

A buttonholer is the perfect sewing machine for people who want to create these buttons. You will find the button-holler function in most models nowadays. Yet, some machines are specifically designed for this.

There’s a high chance that a lock-stitch sewing machine may also offer the opportunity to create buttonholes.

5. Bar Tacking Sewing Machine

A bar-tacking sewing machine is specifically designed to hide wear and tear. However, they also work to hide buttonholes, define collars, strengthen pocket openings, and more.

Like almost every other sewing machine, these are also part of most household and industrial sewing machine features.

Most bar-tacking sewing machines are small and easy to use. Yet, you can find them in other models as well.

6. Double-Needle Sewing Machine

A double-needle sewing machine is different than the standard model. These are usually designed for commercial operations where it’s necessary to create extra-long, sturdy, and/or decorative stitches.

They use two needles and two bobbins to create this type of stitching. That’s why they’re also somewhat more expensive and difficult to use.

Some domestic sewing machines offer the chance to go from single-needle to double-needle. But these are less common.

7. Chain Stitch Sewing Machine

A chain stitch machine is a piece of modern technology that sews stitches on clothing. Back in the day, you would have to do this tedious process manually. And as you might guess, it took a ridiculous amount of time.

Frequently asked questions

After learning about the different types of sewing machines available, it’s time to relieve some of your doubts. Here are some questions with their corresponding answers that may help you out:

What type of sewing machine should I buy?

You should buy what meets your standards of quality and function. As you see above, there’s a sewing machine for almost any type of sewing and result possible.

Which type of sewing machine is the most basic and durable?

A manual sewing machine is the most basic and durable you can get. In fact, these models were created back in the 19th century, and you can still find manual sewing machines from this era working.

What type of sewing machine is best for beginners?

For beginners, it’s critical to pick something that automates the process. That’s why a computerized sewing machine can be an excellent choice. However, computerized models can be pretty expensive at first. In that case, an electronic model will suffice – as they’re still pretty straightforward.

What type of sewing machine is best for quilting?

One of the uses of sewing machine is quilting. So you can get almost any sewing machine for that. But it is recommended that the sewing machine comes with an extension table to support the quilted piece while sewing. In short, you need an electronic model with a large bed or table.

How many different types of hems are there for sewing machines?

Most types of sewing machines can make one or two types of hems (straight and zig-zag). But if you go for an over-edging sewing machine (or a computerized model), you may get the chance to create zig-zag, double-fold, narrow-rolled, and overlocking hems.

What is the most expensive sewing machine?

The most expensive sewing machines are the commercial models used for manufacturing processes. At the same time, you may find antique domestic sewing machines to be pretty expensive as well. Some antique sewing machine brands from the 20th century can meet several thousand in price.

What is the most reliable sewing machine?

A reliable sewing machine is the one that needs the least amount of maintenance to provide a fewer amount of problems. In that case, we can safely say that the most reliable machine is an electronic model.

What is the most popular sewing machine brand?

Among the many brands of sewing machines, few stand out as much as Singer. However, other brands like Janome and Brother are also worth considering for their high popularity and overall quality.

How long does a sewing machine last?

As there are different kinds of sewing machines, the durability of the piece depends heavily on its mechanism, components, and type of use. But it is safe to say that a typical manual sewing machine can last between 10 to 50 years without problems. With proper care, they may last even more than that.

Final notes

Are you looking for a new sewing machine for your home or business? Then you may find the ideal type of sewing machines in this article. If you want something for your household that makes it easy to create simple stitches, then an electronic model will work like a charm.

But if you want a more robust model that sews faster and works with thick fabrics, then you can go for a flat-bed sewing machine and achieve industrial-level sewing. There are many sewing machines to consider, all of them offering specific results and advantages.

So learn as much about them as you can. Once you understand what each machine offers and how you can get the most out of it – then you can pick the right one and get fantastic results.

but you can never say never. So here they are.

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