Brother PQ1500SL High-Speed Quilting and Sewing Machine
Best for seamstresses
A two-in-one sewing and quilting machine ideal for professional sewing and quilting shops.
1 Brother PQ1500SL Review
Are you sewing for a living and need a new machine in your workshop? The Brother PQ1500SL could be the right one. This two-in-one unit truly rocks the title of the best heavy-duty sewing machine.
It’s big and mean, ready to stitch everything at incredible speed. Indeed, for straight stitching, it can reach up to 1,500 stitches per minute.
Losing time threading the needle or cutting the thread is also a thing of the past, thanks to the F.A.S.T. needle threader and automatic thread cutter.
We also like the wide fabric extension table that makes it easy to sew gowns, make bedding, and even quilt some winter apparel or blankets. All in all, this sewing machine is ready to handle whatever you’re throwing at it. It isn’t cheap, but it’s definitely worth it.
SINGER 4423 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine
Best for avid hobbyists
A compact yet heavy-duty sewing machine designed to handle the thickest fabrics, from denim to canvas.
2 SINGER 4423 Review
Perfect for commercial use but compact enough to fit in a smaller sewing room, the SINGER 4423 is ideal for avid hobbyists and aspiring designers making garments or objects from thick fabrics. It has a powerful motor and extra-high sewing speed, so you can create fashion or home décor items in no time.
Designed to make sewing easy, it features a built-in needle threader, top drop-in bobbin, and runs up to 1,100 stitches per minute.
We also like the 23 built-in stitch patterns that vary from basic to stretch to decorative. It even has a one-step buttonhole, so you can easily get consistent results, project after project. Furthermore, the SINGER Assistant app gives you quick access to answers to your frequent questions and tutorials.
Sturdy and built to last, the SINGER 4423 brings unrivaled value for money, serving hobbyists and professionals alike.
Singer 4452 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine
Best for aspiring designers
This heavy-duty sewing machine can sew through multiple layers of difficult fabrics in a breeze.
3 Singer 4452 Review
The SINGER 4452 might look just like an ordinary residential sewing machine but packs commercial power. Use it to sew even the most difficult fabrics, from denim to canvas and even synthetic or natural leather.
Its greatest strength is the heavy-duty interior metal frame that guarantees skip-free sewing. Then, a stainless steel bedplate enables a smooth and quick fabric flow, for uninterrupted stitching. Thirty-two built-in stitches, from basic to decorative, also let you set your creativity free.
Made to help you get through each project quickly and easily, it can reach speeds of 1,100 stitches per minute. It even supports free motion quilting, making it easy to sew through multiple layers of covers or winter clothing.
A tad more expensive than our best value but more feature-packed, the SINGER 4452 is perfect for students, professionals, as well as hobbyists who don’t mind spending a buck.
Janome Arctic Crystal Easy-to-Use Sewing Machine
Best for beginners
A budget-friendly sewing machine capable of tackling heavier projects and perfect for newbies.
4 Janome Arctic Crystal Review
Perhaps the Janome 001Crystal is not the right sewing machine for crafting winter apparel, leather wallets, or purses, but it’s perfect for someone just getting into sewing. Whether you’re an amateur or aspiring seamstress, this sewing machine packs plenty of heavy-duty features.
Convenient aspects include 15 built-in stitches, front-loading bobbin system, and adjustable stitch length. A wide throat area makes it perfect for sewing lighter quilts as well as thick fabrics, like denim or canvas.
Under the nice, colorful cover, it hides a sturdy metal frame that adds just the right weight to prevent the machine from shaking as you’re stitching. Sure, it’s not the best choice for a workshop, but for the price, it’s the best heavy-duty sewing machine for beginners and most do-it-yourselfers around.
Best Heavy Duty Sewing Machine 2021 Buying Guide
Regular sewing machines vs. heavy-duty sewing machines. What is the difference?
At first glance, regular sewing machines and heavy-duty sewing machines look alike. The similarities end here, though.
While regular sewing machines are designed for light, domestic use, industrial sewing machines can withstand intensive use in industrial or commercial settings. They have sturdy metal frames, are rather heavy, and can reach high stitching speeds.
Not only they are designed to last, but wider throats and extension tables – as well as higher power – makes them suitable for sewing thick, heavy fabrics or quilting.
In contrast, domestic sewing machines are lighter, more portable, and have slower speeds. Most of them can’t handle heavy fabrics, that’s why they aren’t really an option for students, seamstresses, designers, or other crafters.
Various types of heavy-duty sewing machines
Just like domestic sewing machines, industrial sewing machines can be classified in various categories. Deciding which is the best heavy-duty sewing machine for you, therefore, is majorly based on your needs and the actual capacities of the model you want.
- Mechanical sewing machines: These are the simplest commercial sewing machines. Typically, they have few functions but allow the operator to make most adjustments manually. They are also inexpensive, and usually the first choice for beginners.
- Electronic sewing machines: The vast majority of the entry- and mid-level units found in sewing shops and small businesses, but also in the homes of many hobbyists. They are the upgraded variant of the manual kind, allowing for some manual adjustments but also offering computerized features. The best electronic sewing machines come with built-in stitch patterns, hemming patterns, buttonhole stitches, and some are even suitable for quilting and embroidery making.
- Computerized sewing machines: Perhaps the best industrial sewing machines, the computerized sewing machines, do almost everything by themselves. Most of these machines control the stitching speed, thread tension, and stitch length, allowing the operator to focus on the final result rather than adjustments. Thanks to these features, they allow you to finish your projects faster than the other kinds of sewing machines.
- Embroidery sewing machines: Another type of commercial sewing machine is the embroidery machine. As its name suggests, it is designed specifically for sewing intricate patterns on fabrics. Although versatile, these machines are typically very expensive.
- Serger machines: This specialty type of sewing machine is usually used by tailors or fashion designers to sew the edges of the fabric and finish the look of the garments or home décor items.
- Quilting sewing machines: Last but not least, professional quilters, as well as fashion designers, may benefit from the use of quilting sewing machines. Many electric or computerized models can be used for this purpose; however, the best sewing machines for quilting have wide throats and ideally an extension table for easier dealing with bulky materials.
What fabrics can you sew with a heavy-duty sewing machine?
Commercial sewing machines are designed for sewing thick fabric, including:
- Upholstery fabric
- Duck cloth
- Ottoman fabric
- Wool tweed
- Polyester fleece
- Coated fabric
Can I sew light fabric with a heavy-duty sewing machine?
Yes. Most heavy-duty sewing machines give you the possibility to adjust the thread tension and can be used to sew both light and heavy fabrics.
How to sew thick fabric?
Sewing thick fabric isn’t so different from sewing thin fabrics; all you have to pay attention to is the settings of the machine. Here are a few easy steps to follow if you’re a beginner:
- Adjust the stitch length at a range between 3.5 and 4.5mm, which will allow the machine to sew the material effortlessly.
- Choose the right needle size; for most thick fabrics, a needle size between 80 and 100 should work fine, then adjust the thread tension to at least 4.
- Flatten the fabric as much as you can. If the material is bulky, it may help to keep it pressed under a weight for at least a few hours before sewing it. This will allow the presser foot to run the stitches faster. If the fabric is particularly bulky, you may even use a flat iron to reduce bulkiness. Now, simply sew the thick fabric as you would sew any other kind of material.
What needle and thread should I use for heavy fabrics?
What sewing needle to use for denim? This is one of the most common questions asked by beginners and DIYers. However, denim is not the only thick fabric an industrial sewing machine can handle. To find out what are the recommended needle sizes and thread types for various fabrics, check the table below.
Canvas, upholstery, leather, vinyl
Denim, woolens, knits, satin
Silk, jersey, muslin
100 or above
Carpet thread or other heavy-duty treads
Cotton, polyester, other synthetic threads
Cotton, polyester, nylon
What is the right tension for heavy-duty sewing
The key to effortless heavy-duty sewing, once you’ve selected the right needle size and thread type, is setting the right thread tension. In broad lines, the thicker the fabric, the higher the tension must be. Otherwise, your machine may not be able to lift the lower thread up to the middle of the fabric layer.
For medium-heavy fabrics, including linen, twill weaves, and denim, the recommended thread tension is between 4 or 5. Anything heavier than this needs a higher tension and longer stitches, while lighter fabrics will need a lower tension and shorter stitches.
What features to look for when buying a heavy-duty sewing machine?
While the market is full of choices, there are a few things to take into account before buying if you want to get the best heavy-duty sewing machine around:
- Construction: The best commercial sewing machines must have sturdy construction. Typically, they have a metal structure and are rather heavy compared to their actual size. The extra weight keeps the sewing machine firm as you’re stitching, allowing you to deal with thick fabrics.
- User-friendliness: It may seem unimportant, but it is essential to get a sewing machine that is easy to use, and that comes with straightforward instructions.
- Sewing speed: The best sewing machines for leather and denim must have high sewing speeds. Ideally, you should aim for at least 1,000 stitches per minute.
- Stitches available: Another important thing is to check the type of built-in stitches the machine comes with. These stitches can help you sew decorative patterns, for example, or sew buttonholes with little to no effort.
- Extras: Some of the best heavy duty sewing machines also come with extras, such as self-threading needle, built-in light, and various levers that allow you to switch from sewing to quilting in the blink of an eye. Although not necessary, these features can easily boost your user experience.