Unlike regular sewing machines that may be enough for simple sewing and patchwork, heavy duty sewing machines are specially designed for heavier fabrics, large projects, and generally longer tasks.
It’s pretty easy to tell heavy duty sewing machines apart from the usual ones. For one, they’re literally heavy – heavier than 10 pounds, in the very least. The most obvious reason for this is to avoid knocking them down, as a lighter machine runs the risk of tipping over or moving around while working on heavy fabrics, even on a rubber mat.
The other trademark is the letters “HD” in the product name, or alternatively, a plainly said “Heavy Duty”.
Another way to distinguish heavy duty sewing machines is that, in practice, a lot of heavy duty sewing machines feature what’s called a “longarm” – this is quite simply a kind of sewing machine that comes with a surface you can use to lay heavier fabrics on, making it easier to work on them over the course of hours. After all, holding a massive quilt for an hour or two is, well, less than favorable – nor is it comfortable.
But it isn’t just your comfort that longarms help you handle. Longarm machines help you keep your workmanship neat and clean, and reduce mistakes, such as unexpectedly crooked stitches. This is simply because heavy fabric pulls itself down when resting in the machine, on a minute level. You probably won’t even realize it!
If you’re planning to use a sewing machine not just for your own projects, but for making a bit of extra cash, then it’s important you consider a longarm heavy duty sewing machine. The reason being that customers usually expect perfection from you – and if you can’t deliver, they’ll head to the next gal/guy.
The next big distinguisher is the presser foot. The presser foot is the metal tab around the needle that presses down on the cloth through each movement of the machine. In many sewing machines, the presser foot is non-adjustable, leaving just about a quarter of an inch of space for cloth to be pushed through.
Heavy duty machines are more practical and malleable about things like this. They carry adjustable presser feet for thicker cloth, so you’re looking at a much larger range of possibilities and projects. Things don’t stop there – some heavy duty sewing machines carry several options for presser feet, for different ideas.
Speaking of different, another important perk in heavy duty machines is greater options in stitch control – least of which being stitch length settings. Longer stitches, you see, are more durable for large-scale projects. Standard machines might have three length settings for you to play with – if you’re planning to do anything that you would classify as a “large-scale” project involving tougher, thicker materials, look for more than that.
Breaking It Down
- Heavy duty sewing machines are split between several categories: mechanical, electric, and computerized. They function exactly as you’d expect – mechanical sewing involves mechanically keeping your machine going, while pushing and turning knobs to adjust several different settings. They’re interesting and novel to use, but also fairly exhausting when working on large projects.
- Next up, electrical models. These do what you expect them to, as well – that being, they run on an electric motor. That makes them much easier to use than their mechanical counterparts. For beginners, this is the best type to work with as it’s more user-friendly than mechanical sewing machines.
- Finally, we come to the big boys. Computerized machines tend to be the most expensive, and for a good reason. You want it, you got it. Stitch patterns from the Internet? Check. Touch screen interface? Check. Powerful feed mechanisms and the feeling of controlling not a sewing machine, but a sewing robot? Check, and check.
Which one is for you? If you’re on a budget, then the answer is none – you’re looking for an older machine that doesn’t necessarily carry “HD” or “heavy duty” on its nameplate, but still packs enough of a punch and weighs more than enough to get most tough jobs done without a problem.
But if you do have the cash to get a contemporary heavy duty sewing machine, then consider just what your budget is, and narrow your choices down to a machine preferably in the electric range.