5 Best Heavy Duty Sewing Machines to Buy in 2018 – Reviews and Buying Guide

37 Models Considered
60 Hours of Research
4 Experts Interviewed
191 Reviews Analyzed

A quality sewing machine has always been a necessity in any household, but finding the perfect sewing machine isn’t as simple as one might think. While the average person might not need a heavy duty sewing machine, we believe that everyone can benefit from owning one as it is the best option when it comes to sewing machines. Apart from typical fabrics, the best heavy duty sewing machine can sew thick materials like denim and leather and can even be used to make quilts. It has a versatile sewing system and is also dependable and durable.

There are various things you will have to consider before you make your purchase such as the type of fabric which it can sew, stitches per minute, and durability among others. A heavy duty sewing machine is different from a usual household sewing machine as it is built keeping the industry in mind, so it comes with advanced features as well as a smoother sewing performance. For this type of sewing machine, the number of stitches per minute is important because it needs to pass through the thicker fabric. The type of fabric helps you determine whether or not your machine can handle different types of materials. A heavy duty sewing machine requires less maintenance over the years as it is heavier and made of thicker and stronger metal. So naturally, it is more durable and can stand the test of time.

Top 5 Heavy Duty Sewing Machines Review 2018

In order to help you in your quest to find the best heavy duty sewing machine, we did our own research. We compared numerous models of different heavy duty sewing machines. We also went through customer reviews for all these machines before testing and trying them out for ourselves. After doing all that, we have narrowed down our research to finalize our top five picks. The structure of this article is such that there is a table with nominations for each sewing machine, followed by in-detail reviews for them along with pros and cons. In the end, there is a buying guide to clear things up in your search for the best heavy duty sewing machine.

Name and Features Image Rating Price
1. JUKI TL-2000Qi (Editor’s Choice)
Sturdy automated industrial-grade machine with plenty of features, speedy and suitable for both sewing and quilting
JUKI TL 2000Qi image
2. Sailrite LSZ-1 PLUS (Best for Heavy Fabrics)
Extremely durable sewing machine with a special technology making stitching more efficient
SailriteLSZ 1 PLUS image
3. Highlead GC0618-1SC (Best Industrial Heavy Duty Sewing Machine)
Industrial-grade sewing machine best to be used for heavyweight fabrics and leather
HighleadGC0618 1SC image
4. Janome HD3000 (Best for Starters)
Durable sewing machine with many handy features, yet easy to use and great for beginners
Janome HD3000 image
5. SINGER 4432 (Budget Pick)
Inexpensive sewing machine a strong motor making easy work of thick fabric
Singer4432 image
Features
  • Type: sewing and quilting
  • Speed (SPM): 1,500
  • Max. stitch length: 6mm
  • Warranty: 2 years on motor, 5 years on parts

More features: industrial engineering, maximum sewing speed control, larger work area, foot controller with thread trimming function, 12mm presser foot lift by a knee lifter

OVERALL RATING: 9.8 out of 10

The JUKI TL-2000Qi is one of the best in the business. Like many modern devices, this sewing device features loads of automated features. It has automatic thread trimming, which allows you to trim both the top thread and bobbin thread with great ease. The JUKI TL-2000Qi features a better thread tension adjustment system with which you can find the best tension for both your fabric and thread. This sewing machine has a microprocessor which looks after the speed control. So, you can easily adjust the speed your machine so that it suits all types of fabric, thick or thin. The machine also has better needle control so you can have more precision when you quilt and design. The JUKI TL-2000Qi features an automatic needle threader so you won’t have to go through the hassle of manually inserting the thread, which helps you sew your fabric faster. This sewing machine also contains LED lights so that you can clearly see the area you’re sewing.

While the JUKI TL-2000Qi is the best in the business, the main drawback that would deter customers from buying it would be the price. It is expensive and not everyone can afford it. In terms of use, it is much different from other conventional sewing machines so there is definitely a learning curve with it.

PROS:
  • Automated, so it’s easy to start using it
  • It’s easy to maneuver the fabric in the machine, making it ideal for quilting
  • It’s pretty durable

CONS:
  • It’s expensive
  • There is a steep learning curve as it has many features

Features
  • Type: sewing
  • Speed (SPM): 600
  • Max. stitch length: 6mm
  • Warranty: 2 years, limited

More features: 3/8’’ presser foot lift, 5mm max. zigzag width, Power Plus Balance Wheel, patented Posi-Pin clutching system

OVERALL RATING: 9.5 out of 10

The Sailrite LSZ-1 PLUS is a sewing machine solely built to stitch heavy fabrics. By this, we mean that the manufacturers didn’t keep any fancy features such as an array of stitches. Their reasoning is that fancy stitches aren’t necessary for thick fabric and that all that matters is the ease through which the fabric is sewn. This sewing machine is said to be so strong that it can stitch 10 layers of heavy canvas and even 8 layers of dacron. All this is thanks to the power system and enhanced motor that the Sailrite LSZ-1 PLUS contains. By using its Power Balance Plus Wheel, you can dish out two times as much power than the traditional flywheel. This alongside the Posi-Pin Clutching System, which transfers 100% of the power from the wheel to the needle, enable the Sailrite LSZ-1 PLUS to smoothly sew through any fabric.

The downside is that the Sailrite LSZ-1 PLUS is quite expensive. It’s not suitable for thinner fabric because of the lack of options for stitching. The Sailrite LSZ-1 PLUS is also not portable as it weighs a lot. The exterior of this sewing machine is made up of steel so it’s really heavy and not so portable.

PROS:
  • It’s extremely durable
  • Has technology to make stitching more efficient
  • It’s so strong that it can sew 10 layers of canvas

CONS:
  • It’s not meant to be used on thin fabric
  • It’s expensive

Features
  • Type: sewing
  • Speed (SPM): 2,000
  • Max. stitch length: 10mm
  • Warranty: not specified

More features: designed for medium- and heavyweight fabrics and leather; presser foot lift: 8mm by hand and 14mm by knee

OVERALL RATING: 9.2 out of 10

The Highlead GC0618-1SC is an industrial grade sewing machine only to be used for heavyweight fabrics and leather. This is a newer model manufactured by the company to replace the GC0618 model. The Highlead GC0618-1SC features tons of improvements such as the addition of the safety clutch assemble. This makes it so that there is less damage on the hook if the machine jams up. The main purpose of the Highlead GC0618-1SC isn’t to sew dresses or hats. It’s to craft baggage, upholstery, sofa cushions, blankets and so on. Another feature of this sewing machine is its unique needle bar support. It allows the machine to have better synchronization with the fabric that’s being fed and ensures uniform stitches and makes easy work of those thick fabric.

While the Highlead GC0618-1SC works great on heavyweight fabric, it’s not meant to be used on thin fabrics such as linen, wool, cotton and so on. And, as this is an industrial grade sewing machine, it costs a lot of money.

PROS:
  • It’s powerful enough to sew through the thickest of fabrics
  • Has safety features to stop the machine from getting damaged

CONS:
  • It’s expensive
  • Not good to use on thin fabrics

Features
  • Type: sewing and quilting
  • Speed (SPM): 860
  • Max. stitch length: 4mm
  • Warranty: 25 years

More features: heavy-duty frame, 18 stitches, 6.5mm max. stitch width, 7 feet included

OVERALL RATING: 9.0 out of 10

The Janome HD3000 is a heavy duty mechanical sewing machine. It contains 18 types of stitches and you can even change the length and width of those designs using sliders. The learning curve for this sewing machine is quite small so you can get the hang of it easily which makes it perfect for beginners. The Janome HD3000, being a mechanical sewing machine, is more durable as it doesn’t have many electrical components and it’s easier to maintain and repair. Unlike computerized sewing machines which need to be repaired by professionals, the Janome HD3000 can be fixed by anyone who has some basic knowledge about sewing machines. This sewing machine is powerful enough to handle tough fabric such as leather, fur, upholstery and even multiple layers of fabric while also being delicate enough to sew softer fabric like linen, wool, cotton. The Janome HD3000 is pretty light compared to other sewing machines so it’s easier to carry around.

While the Janome HD3000 does do a good job sewing thick fabrics, abruptly changing the thickness while sewing can cause problems. Also, for fabrics like canvas or reptile skin, there are better sewing machines in the market. And although the Janome HD3000 is light, it can take up a lot of space. This sewing machine is also a bit expensive so beginners might not want to make this investment.

PROS:
  • It is comparatively lighter and portable to an extent
  • It’s easy to use and is great for beginners
  • It can sew thick fabrics

CONS:
  • It’s a bit expensive
  • It can get jammed if you’re not careful

Features
  • Type: sewing
  • Speed (SPM): 1,100
  • Max. stitch length: 4mm
  • Warranty: 25 years, limited

More features: heavy duty metal frame, 32 built-in stitches, 4 feet included, 6mm max stitch width, SINGER Sewing Assistant App

OVERALL RATING: 8.5 out of 10

The SINGER 4452 is another mechanical sewing machine which is very easy to get used to as it doesn’t have that many functions. It has 32 built-in stitches which include 18 decorative stitches, 6 basic stitches, 7 stretched stitches as well as a one-step buttonhole. This sewing machine has a dial which controls the width of the stitches and it can be set to a maximum of 6mm. The SINGER 4452 also features a built in needle threader which saves you time and has three different needle positions. It contains a motor which is 60% stronger than other motors which allows the machine to sew at a rate of 1,100 SPM and also has the piercing power to sew through multiple layers of fabric. And because it is inexpensive, it’s good for those wanting to start sewing.

While the SINGER 4452 is good for beginners, its lack of functions makes it restrictive as you gain more experience. And, this machine is partly made up of plastic to reduce the weight so it is flimsier than others in the market.

PROS:
  • It’s inexpensive
  • Good for beginners as it’s easy to use
  • Has a strong motor so can make easy work of thick fabric

CONS:
  • Its build contains plastics as well so it isn’t as durable
  • This sewing machine becomes restrictive if you want to do more professional work

Buying Guide

Even if you’re buying your first heavy duty sewing machine or just looking to update the one you currently have, it is difficult to find the perfect sewing machine because there are so many different models readily available these days. With this buying guide, we’re here to help you maneuver your way through these machines and to clear up any confusions so that you’re not lost on any technicalities, in your search for the best heavy duty sewing machine.

What is a heavy duty sewing machine?

Before purchasing your sewing machine, you should consider what you will actually be using it for and how often you plan to use it. A heavy duty sewing machine is often used in the industry and is made for long-lasting durability and dependability. However, it is well equipped to handle extended daily use and is even recommended for it. This type of machine is excellent when dealing with heavy fabrics like leather, animal skin and denim. It is great for making upholstery, blinds, buttonholes, and quilts.

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What makes an ideal heavy duty sewing machine for your needs?

Whether or not a heavy duty sewing machine is ideal for you depends on your needs and on the features that you consider the most important such as the type of machine, build of machine, speed, stitches among others.

Type

Sewing machines can be categorized into five types: mechanical, electric, computerized/automated, embroidery and overlock sewing machine. Mechanical sewing machines have basic settings and have to be used manually by the user. Electronic sewing machines have more features than mechanical sewing machines and have motorized functions. Computerized machines are high technology machines that can even be connected to the internet. Embroidery machines are best for different patterns of embroidery and can even be used for industrial purposes. Overlock sewing machines or sergers are used to overlock or seam the fabric. Heavy duty sewing machines are usually manual in nature.

A manual or a mechanical machine is easy to operate and is suitable for beginners. Because of their manual setup, heavy duty sewing machines are easier to maintain, give fewer problems and are more durable. All the machines that we’ve picked for this buying guide are manual heavy duty sewing machines.

Build

Heavy duty sewing machines are much heavier than your typical home sewing machines as they are made out of steel or iron instead of plastic. The robust exterior and strong metal frame can withstand large amounts of pressure and force, so the machine is likely to last for a longer period of time. The SINGER 4452 is partly made of plastic and is portable. However, the Sailrite LSZ-1 PLUS is made entirely of steel so it is difficult to carry it around but it is long lasting. These machines even come attached with a sturdy wooden table so that they can be fixed to one place and cannot be moved easily. Because of their weight and immobility, a very stable sewing environment is created.

Speed

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Speed control is another major part of sewing. You should set the speed at your own pace so that you won’t have to stop and readjust your fabric every few seconds. If speed is important to you then you should consider getting a sewing machine with variable speed control. If you have adjustable speed control, then you can determine the right speed for different types of materials. It’s often assumed that faster speed is better but that’s not really the case. Several fabrics that are either delicate or too thick require slow speed. This is why it is preferable for users to be able to set their own speed.

Stitches available

The number of stitches available sheds light on the machine’s sewing capacity. If there are several stitching options, then you can be more versatile with your sewing. For example, the Janome HD3000 has 18 different stitches available. Apart from this, the number of stitches per minute also tells us how efficient a heavy duty sewing machine really is. A quality heavy duty sewing machine should be able to produce several hundreds of stitches per minute (SPM) and a heavy duty sewing machine has more SPM than the average household sewing machine. The typical range of stitches per minute lies between 800-2,000. This results in a much faster sewing experience as the machine will be able to power through several layers of fabric with ease.

Presser foot lift

Many heavy duty sewing machines come with one or more presser foot lifts. The presser foot lift works with the feeding mechanism to hold down the fabric to keep it taut while being stitched. Having a presser foot lift is extremely important and convenient, especially if you are stitching several layers of thick fabric at the same time. It is also often spring-hinged to provide flexibility. So while considering heavy duty sewing machines, you should also check if they have a presser foot lift as that will make your work much easier. Among the machines we have reviewed, The Highlead GC0618-1SC and Sailrite LSZ-1 PLUS have pressure foot lifts.

Extra features

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Apart from the features that are already mentioned, heavy duty sewing machines come with additional features that could prove to be useful for the user. An automatic needle threader is often considered a must-have in a sewing machine these days. It can pull the thread right through the needle’s eye in a matter of seconds and that can save you valuable time. From our picks, JUKI TL-2000Qi and SINGER 4452 have this function. Some sewing machines also have LED lights so that the sewing area is illuminated better. Other convenient features we think you should look into are the safety clutch assemble and the drop-in bobbin. They can be quite handy for people who spend a lot of time sewing.

Price and warranty

Heavy duty sewing machines typically cost more than your average machines. They are made of stronger materials, are much more durable, and you will probably not even have to purchase another sewing machine after you get one. The starting price for most heavy duty sewing machines is around $300, and depending on the feature, the specifications, and the brand, it can even go up to $1,000. The warranty for the electrical parts is often 2 years while you can get up to 25-year warranty for the outer frame. However, this also depends on the brand and the type of material the machine is made out of. For example, you will have about 2-5 years of warranty for JUKI TL-2000Qi, because it’s an industrial-level machine with usually shorter warranties. But with the Janome HD3000, you can get 25 years of warranty. We recommend checking the warranty period which the manufacturer is offering on the machine before you make your final decision.

Our Verdict

The sewing machines we’ve chosen for this buying guide have their own advantages and disadvantages. Some are more efficient, some do the stitching work better, and some are cheaper. Trying to help you find one that meets your needs is what we’re trying to accomplish. The JUKI TL-2000Qi is certainly expensive, but we think it’s worth the price seeing how it makes sewing easier. Its automated features save time and you can even adjust the speeds and stitches for the fabric you’re sewing. The SINGER 4452 is a cheap yet powerful machine. Its main feature is its motor which is 60% stronger than regular motors, making sewing through heavyweight fabrics quite a breeze. The Sailrite LSZ-1 PLUS and Highlead GC0618-1SC are both machines that can be used in an industrial level. They’re made to deal with the toughest of fabrics that you could possibly throw at them. The Sailrite LSZ-1 PLUS has two innovative ways to optimize power and the Highlead GC0618-1SC features safety mechanism so that it can work without being damaged. However, these industrial machines cost a fortune, so if you’re looking for a cheaper replacement, the Janome HD3000 is the one you should go for.

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