Do You Need An Industrial Sewing Machine?

need industrial sewing machine

Do you need an industrial sewing machine?  Take a good look in your basement and perhaps you already know the answer.  Down there under the dusty covers and dark shadows, there are the many wounded soldiers of your exploits and garage sales.  Unless you are an antique dealer or a collector, why would you want to clutter your home with any more unused machinery?  Some women buy sewing machines like they buy jeans.  Don't believe me?

Run to your nail salon and ask around.  You will find that the average women have 6 pairs of jeans, some will have more. I am guilty of this, at one point of my life, I had 12 pairs of jeans and 6 sewing machines (1 Singer, 1 Toyota, 1 Juki, 1 Janome, and 2 sergers..).  I'm not sure if you know, but Toyota actually does make sewing machines –as well as cars, trucks and just about everything else.  Then I started to ask myself –what possessed me to accumulate so many pairs of jeans and this amount of sewing machines?

sewing machine brands

The answer was quite simple, I was not entirely satisfied with the product.  I kept looking for a pair of jeans that would look good and are comfortable, and I kept buying cheap ones in the hope that one day I will find the one.  I did find a couple, but they never lasted more than a year, and I was left once again hunting for the perfect pair.  Until one day I had to move to a tropical place.  My needs changed and with it the need for 12 pairs of jeans.  If I take 40 dollars and multiply it by 12, I have enough to buy a pair that is made with the best design and shaping capabilities.

Like the need for a better pair of jeans, our need for a reliable sewing machine arrives in the shape of the mountains of projects forgotten and put aside because we were not happy with the look of the buttonhole or the zigzag doesn't work anymore or the machine is skipping stitches when sewing bulky items, etc. etc.  Notice how after a marathon of sewing, your domestic sewing machine is never quite the same?  This is because home sewing machines are not meant to be used for an extended period of time.  Do you want a sewing machine that can do everything? Everything? Really..? What does that even mean?  Can it attach lining on its own while playing Bach in the background?  There is no such thing as a perfect sewing machine that does everything.  With time I have learned that 95 percent of the stitches I will never use and that professional-looking buttonhole is everything.

So now, do you need to buy an industrial sewing machine?

Like with many things, the answer is “It depends.”  You could certainly argue that an industrial sewing machine is what separates the amateurs from the professionals.  Here are a few other considerations:

  • Do you want to declutter your home by getting rid of mediocre machinery?
  • Do you want to supplement your income with your sewing and need a reliable machine with a professional-looking stitch?
  • Do you want to combine different types of material together for accessories?
  • Do you work with canvas, jeans, leather or sequined fabrics?
  • Do you sew every day for more than 4 hours a day?
  • Do you own an embroidery machine and are thinking of making quilts and handbags?

Then the answer is yes!

need industrial sewing machine


As with my sewing machines, I traded my jeans for a nice pair of well-fitted dark color  7 for all mankind jeans slimming illusion –I like the illusion part the best– and, Yes, I have only one pair now.  Expensive for sure, but worth every penny.

How many sewing machines then?  I think of machines as the brush of a painter.  You can use your hands or have just one, but the true and full answer is 3.  One serger, one domestic machine that makes flawless buttonholes, and my workhorse –an old Pfaff 563 that is reliable and noisy like a tractor, but it sews many layers of fabric together, thick leather and finishes the job efficiently and quickly.

How many sewing machines do you have?  Would you consider an industrial one?  Do you have the perfect sewing machine for your needs?  Leave a comment on the box below.  We'd love to hear your opinion.

I just discovered that you can even find industrial sewing machines on Amazon!  Below are some options.

If you're thinking about a new sewing machine, you can find lots of great reviews over on Sewing Machine Reviews.  If you find one of your existing machines in their list, go ahead and leave a review so you can help other readers with their decision.

Best sewing machine reviews online. Read before you buy!

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140 Responses to Do You Need An Industrial Sewing Machine?

  1. Bronwyn says:

    I have 9 machines & only 2 pair of jeans (well 2 pair that fit) 😉
    I have two overlockers, 2 modern domestics (one of which also does embroidery & a nice buttonhole), 2 Singer featherweights (222k), a 66k treadle in need of repair, a 1888 model 12 hand crank & a 1893 model 28k hand crank.

    I would like an industrial treadle 🙂 We live off grid, so I’d prefer the treadle to conserve power… It also looks amazing!

  2. Linda Schembri says:

    I have several also, A Singer heavy duty that I have on my Gracie frame still figuring out how to free motion quilt with it. Small throat though so its slow going. I have Brother Emobroidery machine which then prompted me to get a Babylock Esante embroidery machine. I have my first Singer serger and a Babylock Enlighten Serger. I also have a Babylock Rachel and a Janome Skyliner which I love. Still have my original metal Kenmore sewing machine that works great and sometimes I fall back on that. I have a Singer that was my mother in laws that I keep for show although it does work fine. I was lucky and had a industrial sewing machine given to me. With a little work from my husband to get it freed up it had been in a garage for 10 years and hours of fiddeling to get the tension correct my first project was making a boat enclosure for my husbands boat. Was quite a challange but it was a success. We had to make our own pattern too. I love all types of sewing and embroidery. I also lucky enough that my husband gave me a section of his garage and we spent a winter building me a sewing room 10′ x 30″. We just built a 12 x 12 building to hold my supplies so I would have room to work. Its what I plan on doing to supplement my retirement income in a few years.

  3. Amy says:

    Having a dedicated space for an industrial machine and access to servicing and repairs would be major downsides for the average domestic sewer. I’m happy with my mix of modern Janomes and old Singers (201k being my star).

    If you create a new pattern (eg a bag) for download from the site, will you use the Pfaff industrial when making up your test versions? Could you then be sure that the pattern is suitable for the market your blog seems to be aimed at – sewers who will mainly be using domestic machines?

  4. Ruth Hurley says:

    I have a Juki TL 2010Q that is my workhorse. I kept my Brother Innov-is NX-250 for the zigzag and buttonhole capabilities and some simple embroidery. My son-in-law gave me his grandmother’s Singer featherweight which I plan to use occasionally to keep it in good shape and then I will see return it to my daughter and granddaughter when they are ready for it. My sister plans to give me her sewing machine but I don’t remember the brand. I recently sold my Brother 1034D serger and plan to replace it with a heavier duty machine, probably a Juki.

  5. Kathy Booth says:

    Question: what is the difference between a serger and a coverstitch or overlocker machine?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      As far as I know, they’re all pretty much the same thing.

      • John Yingling says:

        The difference between a serger, overlocker, and coverstitch is that serger and overlocker are usually synonymous terms/machines. A coverstitch machine does a stretch stitch that normally is done on the hems of knit fabric apparel, such as the hem on a t-shirt, two rows of stitching on top, and a ladder like stitch on the back side. This is called three thread coverstitch, a variant is a five thread coverstitch that uses five cones of thread: three needle threads, an extra thread called a spreader that interweaves the three needles, and one looper or bottom thread. You see this five thread coverstitch on higher end sportswear that covers both sides of a knit seam. There are home coverstitch machines, some models are coverstitch only, and others are combined with sergers. Industrial cover stitchers are big, fast, and can be temperamental beasts. Can you imagine how often a five thread set up could skip a stitch, necessitating frequent redos?

  6. Kathy Booth says:

    I have a Bernina workhorse that does embroidery, but I don’t use the embroidery part because I have a Babylock Ellisimo. I also own a Babylock Grace sewing machine, and a Babylock serger with air-threading that is awesome. I also own a handiquilter Avante longarm machine, so total machines is 5. They all do different things, with different capabilities. If my Bernina dies (and I expect it will NOT) I would get a Babylock Jane, which is semi-industrial. I think it will handle vinyl/leather bag layers just fine.

  7. Theresa says:

    I have a Husqvarna/Viking Iris, a Singer and a serger. I use the Viking for all of my home sewing and basic embroidery. There are times I would like to have a higher end machine so I could do more elaborate embroidery. I use the Singer for mentoring young girls. This basic machine travels easily and the girls catch on quickly. My serger is very seldom used. I know it can do a lot more, but I haven’t ventured beyond serging fabric edges and basic hemming. I appreciate reading the comments about Juki. I have seen the product mentioned, but have not found references for the brand. I have been considering purchasing a long arm quilter for home so I can finish my quilts myself. Appreciate all the info here.

  8. Nancy says:

    Why not add an industrial machine to my mix….I have 8. Two small travel ones (Brother and Janome), a Bernina 635, Husqvarna-Viking Ruby both are combo embroidery/sewing, Pfaff 4.2 (my workhorse), Janome 350E embroidery, Babylock Evolution serger, and Sweet Sixteen L.A. Each have a purpose and personality (at least for me). And, of course, I have way too many jeans. Skinny, medium and fat depending on my weight. It would be divine to have only a few pair of jeans IN ONE Size and downsize machines ( I guess) as well. Sigh.

  9. Rebecca says:

    I was given an industrial machine once – and then I promptly gave it away! It took up heaps of room which I didn’t have to spare and more importantly, it went like the clappers. There was no way I could sew a garment on it neatly. Honestly I think industrial machines are for the ‘piece’ work they do in factories – one seam over and over again. I’d definitely try before you buy if you were thinking of getting an industrial machine. It could be an expensive mistake.

  10. Kathleen says:

    Well, since we’re counting sergers, I can say I have four machines. My everyday machine is a Brother, I have a Singer treadle that was my grandmother’s before it was my mother’s before it was mine . . . , a serger, and recently acquired a Singer featherweight. Don’t need anymore machines but would love to come across that cute cabinet for my featherweight! I hear those are very rare.

  11. Nola McLaren says:

    I have 4 sewing machines. The last one I bought (Smart Pfaff) because my 1970’s Elna Su hit the dust. Since then I bought the same machine from a neighbours yard sale for $100. I was ecstatic. I was in the thrift store in December and for $40. I got the 1950’s Elna Grasshopper. In perfect working order with accessories and original manual. What a deal. I inherited from my mom the 1st machine I started sewing on in the1960’s. This was a Singer Treadle enclosed in the cabinet, just needs a new leather pulley (coming soon) Just like other sewers I also collect fabric, and patterns that no longer fit. I could adjust them bit it’s easier to get the next size up. My plan is to retire this year and do more sewing, maybe use the material I have in my stash. Perhaps take up Quilting as well. Love your site and great ideas. NM

  12. Joanne says:

    I have 4 machines a Phaff regular & embroidery machine, Phaff serger,Baby lock regular machine and a Janome cover Pro which I would not be without

  13. Brenda says:

    I own an industrial machine from Neels Saddlery. It is a name brand with his plate on it since he has the models he sells customized for work with leather and for home use. I love it. At the time I bought it my main issue was getting a hefty machine that would handle my tack repairs for the race horses we owned and trained, as well as keeping said items safely away from my Janome 9500. Now that we have retired the stable I still enjoy that machine as it is a work horse and sews a tough dependable stitch and can use sturdy industrial threads. Whenever I have an issue I can call Ryan Neel and he responds quickly, I have only had to contact him twice in 10 yrs and both times I left a message and he replied quickly. He comes highly rated on the internet, something I always research prior to a major purchase. One piece of advice, make sure you have access to a person who can assemble and service your machine, this is not like domestic machines and would involve having a reliable skilled mechanic, in my case, my husband. I would never have my husband go near by Janome, and he wouldn’t even want to, but this machine, with it’s oil case, is right up his alley. He assembled it and maintains it for me with an occasional tweek. Also, industrial machines for home use have the added motor with speed control that slows it down, unless you are comfortable sewing at lightening speed with no ability for slowing it down. If you purchase one, make sure it is customized for home use, mine came with this added motor and was noted as having that in the description. The assembly directions were very thorough my husband reports.This machine (which I found on Neels ebay store link on his store web sight) was reasonable in price (new, about 900 when shipping is included in cost), is set into its dedicated table. It does not have a light built into the machine. I have tried a couple types of lights but now I use a strip of LED lights, in fact I added these to the Janome after seeing how bright they are on my industrial and they give an amazing amount of light. Along with that machine I still have my trusty Janome 9500 and a White brand serger (also dependable and very inexpensive). Three machines doing everything I want and need and I do not even investigate buying another machine.

  14. Mary Dumas says:

    What machine makes a perfect button hole every time? I want.

  15. Jennie says:

    I have 1, a Babylock tempo. It makes great buttonholes, but whines when you quilt or sew on thin leather. I do have access to the 1960s singer that was grandmas, my adult daughter now sews on it. It’s would sew through my hand if I let it and probably wouldn’t even whine. Space for me is at a premium so having more than one isn’t a possibility. But I’d love an industrial machine that I could sew anything on.

  16. Cheryl says:

    I have had a Bernina serger and machine for 30 years. I just traded the machine in for a newer model. I traded in my old for the new (only paid $400) and am loving it.

  17. Barbara says:

    I have 2 Brother sewing machines, an XL3750 my oldest machine, and an Innovis 80 which I am very happy with. Been thinking about getting a machine with a wider throat space to be able to quilt more easily, but I don’t need all the bells and whistles of an expensive machine. Wish manufacturers would make a less expensive sewing machine with a larger throat space.

  18. Aleatha says:

    I have 13 machines…don’t know why! I am trying to down size. I am a quilter and I want to buy a Juki TL-2010Q. I have a variety of interests in sewing. You have good ideas and are very talented.

  19. Ruthie says:

    I at one time had 3 sewing machines, but right now I only have one. It’s a Singer “heavy duty” 4432. It’s not really a heavy duty machine, but it’s a heavier domestic mechanical machine and it meets my needs. I only have one because I really don’t have the room for more, though one day I will need to buy another good mechanical machine to teach my girls to sew. We are also homeschoolers.

  20. Debbie says:

    I love this can of worms you’ve opened here! I have too many to list here, but recently I have been making an effort to clean up most of my herd and sell or give them away. There are so many in my sewing room that I can barely get in three to sew.

    So, I am at that point of deciding what stays and what goes. I’ll be keeping the 201, 401, newer Brother, and my Toyota treadle along with one of my two sergers.

    Your blog post is very enlightening for me. I actually learned to sew on an industrial machine when I was a kid helping my folks out in their upholstery shop. And I have a couple of industrial heads that need my attention. But if I keep one of those I’ll need a much larger sewing room. Hm. Oh the idea and possibilities!

    Have a wonderful day!

    Debbie… (0;

  21. Betty Frezon says:

    I have a Juki love it. Used that on a frame for quilting. Now own a Block Rockit mid arm on the frame love it. And a Janome for my piecing and regular sewing. My prize Featherweight gets put to use often. An Antique beautiful threadle cabinet Singer. Will sew but it is retired. Use it as a piece of furniture. Good memories of a great neighbor. Just recently gave my Granddaughter my mother’s Singer in beautiful sewing condition. My sister had that and offered Me it for Kate. I had it serviced and runs like a charm. It is a good solid sewing machine. Great for mending and projects too. I believe it is a 1950’s Singer. Age is not important if you have a good running machine. Oiling and cleaning your machine is important if used all the time. Even important to do now and again if it is used occasionly. Machines respond to good care.

  22. I have 32 pairs of jeans, 4 sewing machines plus an overlocker and a coverstitch machine. All used. My largest machine, a Janome is too big and heavy to move so I use the smaller ones for taking away with me. The Janome is used for quilts as it has a huge throat, very handy for shoving quilts through, the others are for garment and craft items. I may just have a look for an industrial, I know they are faster but very expensive, will have a search.
    Love this site, there is always something interesting to read.
    Andrea x

  23. Karen says:

    I have a basic home sewing machine that I know can’t handle the amount I use it but there is absolutely no way I can afford anything half decent living off what Alberta gives a person on disability. So I’m one of those who has a million half finished projects because I can’t get what I want out of what I have. One day, maybe.

  24. Sandy Himes says:

    I really thought I needed to do embroidery so I have a Bernina Artista (that I seldom use for embroidery), a singer and a singer serger (which I have yet to sit down and use because it somehow overwhelms me) and I have a handiquilter long arm machine. I have vacation coming up and plan to get out those you tube videos and master that serger!

  25. happygirl says:

    I have a workhorse Janome Memory Craft that is fab for dressmaking and piecing, really accurate BUT I bought an old cabinet and inside is a Singer swing needle circa 1965….and it’s a delight to use. I use it for quilting, bag making etc and my hubbies uses it ti make rain covers for motorbikes…….I also a singer hand crank portable in its box circa 1900 and use it as an ornament! Then there’s the somewhat cranky frister rossman so called quilters edition that I take to class……not forgetting the little electric singer portable………hmm. nearly forgot the overlocker a d my bff brother embroidery machine………….One machine doesn’t really do it all so I agree, a commercial or nice older electric is a bonus.

  26. Jerilyn says:

    I have two domestic machines that I use regularly (two separate locations) , one serger, and a newly acquired industrial machine. My main projects are purses, so the industrial was a must. I’m still learning how to use it!

  27. Donna says:

    My old Toyota overlock lasted 30 years! I bought a Singer overlock to replace it, but it arrived broken. I had it repaired, but it isn’t all that great. So I bought a Juki overlock and love it. Of my 6 domestic machines, the Juki is my favourite . I’d love an industrial machine, and if I do get one, it will probably be a Juki as well.

  28. jenne says:

    I am seriously thinking of an industrial sewing machine, have been on and off over the last several years. I thought the ghost of wanting that machine was gone and then I read this article. I have a singer, a janome, an embroidery machine and a serger. I also got two traditional manually run sewing machines. I think I better start thinking of running a sewing school or class if I get an industrial one. Too many machines lying around unused is really a waste.

  29. Linda says:

    I have TWELVE (12) machines – 3 Pfaff 1222’s, 3 Singer 99’s, my grandmother’s 201 in cabinet, a Singer FW 222, a Janome MC4800, a singer 301 and 2 more Singers a 258 and a 357 I believe. But to be fair I also teach 4-Hers to sew and it seems no one has a sewing machine anymore … so they learn on mine.

  30. Karen South says:

    I now have 4 Brother machines ; a serger, a cover stitcher, an all in one and a semi-professional embroidery only machine. I recently gave my first ever embroidery/sewing machine (a Janome) away to my mum. I actually love my all in one machine, it does a perfect buttonhole, straight stitch, zig-zag, 3 step zig-zag and I use the many other stitches to make my own broidery anglaise and in heirloom sewing. I’m learning new things every time I use it and invested in this machine because it would grow as I grew. It sews an invisible zipper in with no trouble and I got the “in the ditch” foot which lets me sew perfect top stitching and invisible in the ditch sewing too. I’m probably a bit unusual that this machine with hundreds of stitches is perfect for me as I’ve probably used at least half already! And I’m looking forward to using the other half…I’m hoping to be able to use the embroidery only machine to earn money personalising items for clients it can hoop anything from backpacks to onesies! I’m not sure if an industrial machine is what I need right now, but your post has certainly given me food for thought!

    I’m considering getting a basic machine for when I’m in London Monday to Friday but that’s a little way off now.

  31. Carol says:

    I have a Janome 11000se which is amazing, a Janome 350e which had only been used once since I bought the 11000 18 months ago. A Husavana used once, an ancient Bernina Record and an Elna I was given a few weeks ago and then a Janome serger. I think I need to declutter.

  32. Chris says:

    I have an industrial machine exactly as the one showing in the photo but it isn’t a Pfaff. Even the table in the picture is the same but mine is labelled as a ‘Global’ machine. I bought it to tackle the thicker layers used in bag making as I didn’t want to ruin my other machine bought specially for quilting & every day sewing. That one is a Janome Memory Craft 8900 QPC. I doubt I will buy any other machine unless I start dressmaking in a big way then may be tempted to buy a serger.

  33. vicki says:

    I have a Janome domestic machine, an elna serger and just brought an industrial machine. I am seeing to sell though so I feel a little bit justified. They are really taking over school room though. We are home schoolers

  34. Di says:

    I have 4 machines. A Babylock serger, a Janome embroidery/sewing machine, a great Bernette and an older mechanical Kenmore that will stitch through anything!

  35. Helene says:

    I own 3 too. A singer featherweight for buttonholes, viking lily for regular sewing & serger.

  36. tytbody says:

    I believe in the power of 3 also. I never knew I was going to grow to like more then one machine, as my sewing has improved and want to do variety, I need a heavy duty machine to go through 6 layers of home decorating fabric and not have to use a plastic walking foot. Yes, I need it now, It’s not a want. I want a one and that will be it. Have the coverstitch, Janome and the Serger Juki. Juki. I wish we had more retailers but I have a great Serger. so, I have a Janome for my buttonsholes and a few fancy stitches, that also, never get used.

  37. Lorraine says:

    WOW, you’ve just started a new thought process for me. Thanks

  38. Cecelia Harris says:

    I rationalized the acquisition of a coverstitch machine about 2 years ago and have never regretted it. I sew mostly knits so I use it nearly every garment I construct. If I could find a used industrial machine, I might consider it. Something to think about…

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Yes, it is great when the equipment meets your needs. For making bags, working with leather and embellished fabrics I had to switch.

  39. Fooniks says:

    I totally agree. I currently have three machines. An industrial, a serger and a home sewing machine which I use for buttonholes, twin needle sewing and the occasional zigzag stitch. However I’d love to have a fourth one, a coverstitch, but money is extremely tight right now so I’ll just keep hoping that one day I can afford one.

  40. Andrea says:

    I have a Juki domestic machine and a Mercury commercial over locker. I still have my domestic over locker but since buying my commercial I never use it. As for my Juki, it has all the benefits of domestic and commercial combined so I am really happy with it.

What do you think?