Beginner’s guide to sewing with industrial machines

Based on the experience of my recent class, I thought an entry about how to feed or manage layers when sewing on an industrial machine would be helpful but realized I needed to provide more groundwork first. Speaking of the class, the context is I had two students who are primarily retailers (own 3 stores) who want to develop their own in-house sewing unit. One partner does a bit of sewing with home machines but is intimidated by industrials. To reduce the intimidation factor, I trained them on my three servo machines:

Durkopp Adler Lockstitch model 271-140342 (basic sewing machine)
Juki DLN 9010 SH Needle feed
Reliable 3/5 thread overlock model 3316N GG740H

That reminds me, you may ask what is a servo? Servos are relatively new being one of two types of motors used on industrial machines. The other kind you may be more familiar with is a clutch motor. Clutch motors are noisy (I like the sound); servos are completely silent, as quiet or more than a home machine even at top speed. Stuart wrote a review of a servo motor.

Industrial machines are set up differently from home machines. With the latter, the motor is built into the machine head itself. The motor on industrials are separate, usually mounted to the underside of the table. This is useful because you can switch them out if they go bad.

You may ask which is best but it depends. If you are a baby (like me) and don’t like fiddling with stuff and want the whistles and bells (automatic thread cutter, easy speed control etc), the servo is best. I’m slowly upgrading all of my equipment to servos, I love them. Clutch motors are good too but it takes longer to get used to controlling the speed with the foot pedal and they don’t have the same amenities servos do.

Industrial machines are more specialized than home machines. Probably the biggest misconception is that industrials are for heavier work like canvas etc but this isn’t true. My Adler (the lockstitch) is a “dressmaker” for lighter materials. Sewing heavier weights on it throws off the timing -assuming it’ll form a stitch. A lockstitch is the most common kind of sewing there is with a top and bottom thread forming a stitch. The basic dressmaker only has one kind of feed, that of the bottom feed dogs. I don’t know what this model and brand costs these days. Mine is about 10 years old. I bought it from a customs broker whose client went belly up before he could collect his merchandise so it only cost $400 which is what the broker had in it. The deal of the century, it was so new it was still crated. At that time, these machines were over $5,000; they cost less now (industrial machine prices are very competitive and continue to fall). Adlers are the top of the line brand and cost more; a Juki 9000 comparable to this one is about $1,350 (quote from Orange County Industrial). Brand names aren’t as important in industrial machines because among the major brands, they are all good. Also, many presser feet, parts and bobbins between brands are interchangeable. That keeps costs low too and most presser feet are inexpensive. A $7 presser foot is considered expensive if that says anything.

A needle feed is also a lockstitch but it feeds from two places, the dogs and the needle itself. This is useful when feeding tricky materials. I wrote about this before in much more detail. That entry includes a video so you can compare the needle action. If you could only afford to get one, the needle feed might be the better option because it is more versatile with respect to sewing slippery and nappy stuff but it costs a bit more. I bought mine from Wayne at Orange County Industrial (I’m a very satisfied customer but do a lot of your homework before calling; industrial dealers don’t do extensive hand holding and I don’t want Wayne to become annoyed that I mentioned him). Speaking of, my model is the SH which is for heavier weights. You probably want the SS model. It costs about $2,800. This price includes an automatic thread trimmer. Because I’m a baby, I think it is worth paying for. A thread trimmer means the machine will automatically cut the thread when you want it to (easier than you’d think).

The other difference between home and industrial machines that bears mentioning is that your usual price quote includes three things: the head, the motor and the table. In home sewing, it is just the head (motor built in). Because this is more typical than not, if you are quoted a price where this is not the case, the dealer or seller will always mention if it is head only, machine and motor only or no table included etc. In the normal course of affairs, you can assume the price quote includes table, motor and machine. In fact, dealers will often mention a possible upgrade to a better motor.

The feedback on the two machines from my students: one had a pronounced preference for the Juki. The other seemed to prefer the Adler. All things remaining the same, I prefer the Adler. It operates more elegantly (it is sometimes described as “more sensitive” but not as in needy or neurotic). The Juki sounds clunky (to me) by comparison. That matters little, both machines operate excellently and I heartily recommend them both.

An overlock is better known to home sewers as a “serger”, they are the same thing (but Rocio says you should never say “serger” in industry). The one I have is a 5 thread safety stitch. This consists of a three thread formed overlock seam with a chain stitch alongside. You usually don’t use a safety stitch on knits unless you use stretchy thread. The Reliable model I have also converts to 3 threads which can be used on knits. The overlock was popular with both students. It also has a servo and runs very smoothly and quietly.

Regarding operation, the foot pedal (as applied to the servos only) bears mentioning. There are three basic foot positions. You use the tip of your toe on the edge of the pedal closest to you, to lift the foot. You use your full foot to stitch. When you’re done with the seam and want to back stitch (automatic with the servo) and cut the thread (if you have an automatic thread trimmer, definitely recommended), you leave your foot in place on the pedal or maybe slide it down just a tad but bear down firmly applying pressure with your heel on the pedal edge closest to you. Exactly as though you were “digging in your heels”. The overlock has two foot pedals. One to lift the presser foot (if needed) and the other to run it. In short, machines with servo motors don’t have a knee or a hand lift for the presser foot. With automatic back stitching, you don’t lose one hand to operating a knob or lever. This is great because your hands are free to work the materials.

Explosion factor of any of these machines if you do something wrong is zero. Mr. F-I laughs at me but I have told him that women often rate equipment in terms of, if they do something wrong, will the machine explode? He thinks I’m kidding but you know better. It is pretty hard to mess these up. Speaking of, the worst that can go wrong is in threading.

Threading a machine: When you buy a machine, it is nearly always threaded. That is because the dealer “sews it off” before shipping to make sure the unit is operable. The way you change threads on an industrial is to clip the thread at the spindle (never pull it out!) and tie on the new thread with the most basic knot there is. Then unthread the needle, lift the presser foot and pull the thread through the channels and what not from the bottom. When the knot feeds through, clip it off and re-thread the needle from left to right. The bobbin is threaded exactly like a home machine. The direction and thread tail of the bobbin should form a “9” before inserting it into the bobbin case. I learned that from a home sewer, I never could keep it straight before that.

All of this is very basic, if you scan the machines and equipment tags on this site, you’ll find much more detail and information about machines.

In the next entry, I will explain the epiphany I had with respect to the main reason we don’t use pins (and what I originally intended for this entry to be about). Pins prevent optimal handling and feeding of the fabric into an industrial machine. Before I told you that pinning was unnecessary due to foot pressure and also, that pins introduce inaccuracies where there were none.  Until had to teach handling in this class (focusing on advanced topics, I’m not very experienced at teaching people who’ve never sewn on an industrial) I didn’t realize needing to mention that pins prevent optimal feeding of goods. As it happens, the best (most consistent) sewing results are attained by keeping layers as separate as much as is possible until just before they go under the needle. Pins obviously subvert that.

Get New Posts by Email


  1. Cathy says:

    I’ve been looking for a overlock machine to replace my home serger. Currently, I use 4 threads/ 2 needles on my serger for knits. Is there an equivalent in overlock machines? So far the only the only industrial machines I’ve come across are 3/5thread with 1 needle.
    I was under the impression 4 thread was common in ready to wear. Am I wrong?

  2. Gisela says:


    I’m going through your book and you don’t know how happy i am to have found you on the web. i can’t stop reading your blog! even more great information for me like this post on sewing machines! i’m loving your book by the way & can’t wait to start putting it into practice in a few months. I also am going to be chronicling a bit about starting my first line on my blog and i’m sure I will be preaching about your book allot.

    Thanks so much for your insight!


  3. I do have a knee bar on my servo machine. It allows a higher lift of the foor, which is sometimes usefull.

    Abour pins : usually, I use none on the sewing machine. But a bespoke shirt maker told me a few days ago that for some precision tasks on shirting fabrics (which are slippy), pins were mandatory.

    He uses a very old Singer, which makes a beautifull stitch that he cant get from modern machines, maybe there is not enough pressure.

  4. LizC says:

    I’ll just add that even though I don’t know how to feed my fabrics well (and I’m really looking forward to the next post!), eliminating as many pins as possible has both speeded up and improved the accuracy of my “housewife-level” sewing.

  5. Thank you for this post, Kathleen. My head has been swimming in name brands and types of machines. I’m going, this week, to a dealership that has used machines as well as new so this definitely has helped me focus a little more on what I may need or ask for.

  6. Thank you so much again. My sewing level can be rated “housewife” too and I’ve never sewn on an industrial machine. That post and the next to follow are all I need, though there’s nothing like experimenting.

  7. Cindy Graff Cohen says:

    Thank you mucho, mucho for this excellent column — and perfect timing for me, Kathleen! It just happens I have an “exploration” appointment at 10:30 with an engineer at Atlas Sewing today in your old stomping grounds to begin talking about industrial sewing machines needed for my new business. I’ve been reading your past posts on the subject as well and gone to some of the links you posted. I am so, so, so new at this, but very eager to learn more and figure out how this will fit in my budget.

    P.S. Since I last saw you at Tres Mariposas in 2009, I’ve finished my patternmaking certificate and I’ve just about worn out your book from re-reading many of the chapters! It was the required text in two classes. We can’t thank you enough for sharing your insights, advice, and experience with us!

  8. Leslie says:

    Oh the ‘9’ is a great tip! Thanks! My servo machine also has a knee lift, it’s a Juki DDL5550N-7 made in Japan.

  9. Jess L. says:

    One of the things that can go wrong is the blades getting misaligned on an overlock machine. When we (me, my brother and my mom) sewed disposable coveralls that was one of the things that could ruin your day. Having to spend time getting them lined back up. The blades can also get dull and need to be replaced and then they have to be realigned.

    Another thing is the foot pedals would just fall apart and you’d be on a time crunch so you’d just have to find some way to put it back together.

    We had one cast iron singer from the 1800’s (maybe it wasn’t that old lol). We used it for at least 8 years until it finally bit the dust on our last day with the contractor we sewed for. It’s like it was held together with sheer will, lol.

    Motors were always burning up. You’d turn it on and you’d smell something and get this sinking feeling. Changing out a motor is such a pain.

    We sewed like maniacs and probably used a machine more than the average industrial sewer. Basically full speed (we were so fast that before the first piece was finished the next one was already being sewn lol) sometimes 10-12 hour days. Good times!

  10. Sarah Sky says:

    Reading about all these industrial machines just makes me want more. Thank goodness i don’t have the space or the money right now. The thought of an automatic thread trimmer just makes a heart sing. Because i don’t have the space right now, my juki is in storage. I’ve been sewing on a 40s pfaff and i have to say, it is almost as wonderful as my juki. pretty fast and im even doing some leather work, but i miss the easy handle-ability of the industrial.

    Maybe that is why a lot of home sewers use pins? when you have an industrial, it almost like everything aligns itself. and the stitch, i mean. They say it looks professional because it is.

    What i don’t understand is why MORE home sewers don’t have industrials. You really cannot find a home sewing machine that is anywhere as good for anywhere as cheap. I have a straight stitch machine, and that does most of the sewing i need, and then i have a babylock, and my mom’s old kenmore with cams that does everything else.

    I don’t know if you saw Cathy’s post, but i am also starting to research and look for a merrow machine (but any brand). Is there any you could recommend. I’ve never sewn on an industrial one, are they adjustable in their width like a babylock? do you have a separate machine for each type of merrowed hem, like a rolled hem or if you want a larger then smaller overlock stitch?

  11. Lisa Blank says:

    My straight stitch Juki also has a knee bar and servo. I think we may need to distinguish between servos that simply replace clutch motors on machines without all the automatic niceties vs. servos that control all the automatic goodness that some of us are missing out on.

  12. Kathleen says:

    Re: knee lift. Obviously there are a lot of machines out there that still have them even if they do have servos so I should explain. The issues are age of the machine, design and price points.

    The servo is slightly more expensive so budget machines designed to include a clutch motor option will have knee lifts. This is also true of older machines that have been retrofitted (this is easier than it sounds). However, higher end and newer machines designed to be used exclusively with servos won’t have them. With respect to Paul’s comment (a higher lift possible), this is very plausible and could definitely see how given machines designed to handle heavier and thicker weights would have them. Paul: your shirt maker’s pin problem could be solved with a needle feed :).

    re: housewife sewing on industrials. If you like signaling, there’s no better way to impress your friends than to have one. Once they see or experience the handling and superior stitch quality, they’ll clamor for their own. An unnamed family member is a Bernina snob. Once I could finally convince her to (condescend to) try the machines, she was shocked at their performance. When I told her what they cost, she was aghast and said something to the tune of, “if all of your industrials together cost less than my Bernina -why would anyone buy one?” -which is exactly what DH and I had been asking ourselves. Downside is, these can’t be stowed for storage like home machines which in affect, is another signaling mechanism; that you can afford to have dedicated space to keep the machine set up permanently. One last thing, don’t forget power. Get a machine that runs on 110v. Read the fine print; some are 220 altho many servos have a switch on the motor to set according to power reqs.

    Cindy: I’ve bought a few things from them, supplies mostly. I don’t know that they have a real engineer on staff (lol) but they do have a lot of experience serving plants both here and across the border. Like anyone in the business for eons, they’re colorful, especially the dad (a genuine Spaniard). You might also check out Amex across the street, catty corner at 1613 Texas. They often have things for sale in the back like cutting tables and what not so you have to ask. Do you speak Spanish? I don’t know how well the staff there speaks English. Ask for Jorge.

    Cathy/Sarah: 4 thread is common in RTW. The Reliable site has a variety of overlocks with various configuration options. Merrow has an excellent site, the company (which invented the overlock machine) is still run by the Merrow family.

    Sarah: I think homesewers avoid industrials for some of these reasons:
    1. Fear factor, what if it explodes?
    2. Don’t know what to buy, not enough guidance and choices are overwhelming.
    3. Don’t have the space or want the option of space flexibility
    4. They worry they won’t be able to operate it, that it takes a pro to use one and they presumably aren’t.
    5. When purchasing, they fear being laughed at or being taken advantage of.
    6. Expense. If good home machines are pricey, industrials must be more so. Prices for presser feet for home machines are ludicrous ($50!) so they’re reluctant to buy another machine and be on the hook to buy gadgets for it. Ditto for the cost of service.

    Btw, it cost me @$70 to have a pfaff home machine serviced and I had to drive there and leave it for a week (good thing I don’t need it to make money with!). By comparison, I recently had my industrials serviced. He came to my location, fixed the timing on one machine, serviced my dbl needle brother, my ancient singer walking foot and sharpened 2 pairs of snips and about 4 pairs of scissors. Total cost for an hour of his time was about $80. I didn’t have to go anywhere and it was done asap.

    • Jennifer says:

      Ahhhh this is so helpful. My Juki TL2200 is in the shop again for the 3rd time in 2 weeks. I sew a lot of canvas bags and am looking to get an industrial machine. I feel overwhelmed and am not sure where to start. Seems finding your blog was a stroke of good luck. Off to read more. Thanks!

  13. clp says:

    What an interesting post. For others who are not ready for industrial-speed sewing, this add-on may help. I have a Juke DNU-241HS with a clutch motor. I had great difficulty mastering the clutch and maintaining the sewing accuracy I wanted. So my husband persuaded the seller to exchange its single-phase 120-volt motor for a 3-phase 240-volt motor. The speed of any 3-phase motor can be controlled via something called a “variable frequency drive” (VFD). This allows me to set the maximum speed regardless of foot control position. In addition to being able to control the speed, the VFD also can convert normal 240-volt household power into the 3-phase power need to run the industrial motor. The only downside to using a VFD is that the motor’s internal cooling fan also runs at the slower speed. In a production setting, you may need to add an auxiliary motor-cooling fan, but for my short sewing sessions, it works great without one.

  14. LizC says:

    In my case, I have a home sewing machine because I have room for only one machine. And it’s often in its case tucked under the work table.

    When I said “housewife” sewing above, I didn’t just mean someone who sews on a home machine. For me, sewing is one of my minor hobbies — I probably do sewing projects only a few hours a month. I want to do the best job I can in my few hours (that’s why I’m here), but I can’t justify the space needed to set up industrial machines.

    Plural intentional … to sew well, one needs several different industrial machines. My Husquie (Viking) may not sew as well as the industrials, but it does a good enough job for me, and takes care of my sewing needs. Then can go back under the table until the next project shows up.

  15. Chris says:

    I love my industrial brother machine- I bought it new 7 yrs ago, and it runs like a dream. I always feel like my pfaff domestic machine is going too slow when I switch over, it’s mostly only used for decorative and embroidery work. The fear factor is a big thing for alot of people, in college I had my choice of the industrial machines to work on, most people avoided them and used their own domestic machines instead. And it’s so true about the difference in the price of attachments- I just bought a non-stick foot for my industrial, and it would have cost 4 times as much for a similar foot for my domestic pfaff.

  16. Gail says:

    Count us in as fans of Orange County Industrial as well (and fans of Wayne!). And if you have a question about feet, replacement parts, needles, etc., Edwin in the parts department is very knowledgeable and helpful.

  17. Dorothy says:

    I just bought an industrial walking foot sewing machine and it has a servo motor and a knee pedal to raise the pressure foot. The machine does not sew smoothly…it revs fast and then goes slow. It has a variable speed adjustment and when on slow, it sews but hesitates…I am wondering if the machine is out of tune or sync. When sewing on the fast speed, it goes like crazy…I just bought this machine from California and I live in Arizona….they have exchanged the servo motor (us thinking it is the motor) but now I am wondering if it is the machinbe….I have another industrial machine with a clutch motor and it sews like a dream. I thought if I bought a walking foot industrial for all of my really heavy canvas and leather it would sew like a dream too but NOT SO. I know you are not a repair person but can you give me any advice?

  18. Virginia Dan says:

    Downtown LA you can probably find a cluth motor juki used for like $300 if you look. I wish i have room for an industrial, but I settled for those juki semi commercial single needle home machines, I think brother and janome make similar models, but the tension knob is more tempermental than an industrial machine. when i sew faster on thin fabric it tends to catch the top thread and bunch up, drives me crazy.
    for beginners, when you sew on an industrial remember to pulse your feet to control the speed. once your used to it, you’ll never go back to regular home machine

  19. Great post Kathleen! I purchased 3 industrial single needle Singers over 2 years ago. I still have not set them up…ugh! Recently when buying granite countertops, the salesman told me his family used to be the largest industrial sewing machine repair/setup company in NYC (back in the good ole’ Garment District days) and would gladly help me set up and learn my machines! Woo Hoo! I can’t wait to finally use them! Although I love my home machines, they are just too slow.

    With friendship,

  20. Jodie says:

    This post is so exciting. I love speed when sewing. I have also been intimidated by industrial machines.
    I currently have a Pfaff sewing/embroidery machine which I exchanged a Bernina for. I would give anything if I had kept my Bernina. It was 23 years old and MUCH faster. My Pfaff drives me crazy. I am super interested in doing some slip covering and am loving the info for industrial machines. I have got to find me one! Thank you for this fabulous blog.

  21. Sue says:

    I just bought a used Juki DDL-5550
    I am so excited and trying to get better control with the speed
    also trialed quilting and the backing material kep gathering
    any tips are appreciated
    I also have a pfaff embroidery machine that has been in being fixed for 3 wks now
    I hope I get better with my Juki I miss sewing

  22. Dan Dosemagen says:

    You absolutely know nothing about industrial sewing machines. People who sew with industrial machines never pin anything together, it’s not necessary. Servo motors have nothing to do with having a knee or lever to lift the foot, they are simply an alternative to a clutch motor. What you’re describing is a machine with automatic lift and automatic backstitch and thread cutting. That will also put the price of the machine up into the thousands of dollars, 10 times more than a home machine. I have servo motors on all three of my industrial machines, and all three have a lever lift and a knee lift. There is a huge difference between industrial sewing machines and home machines. An industrial machine is meant to sew about 3 to 4 times faster than a home machine. The people that sew on them work in factories on piece work, not the occasional apron.

  23. Kathleen says:

    Who are you talking to Dan? It is as tho you read something on some other site and before leaving a comment, were magically transported to this site. I recommend following some of the links in this post and reading them for proper context. This site has been continuously published for almost 7 years. I don’t need to repeat the ABCs in every single post I write. That’s what those links are for. And you’re right, I have never claimed to be an authority on industrial machines but I’ve been sewing on them for over 30 years. In factories. Without pins. :::shakes head:::

    FYI: you’re not up on the price of homesewing machines. My MIL paid over $13,000 for her two machines. I haven’t paid $13,000 for all 7 industrials I own (admittedly, only bought 3 new but they still cost less than $6,000 total).

  24. Erika says:

    Hi Kathleen,
    Can you help me?
    I am using my machine (Toyota) to manage a dry cleaning contract. Zips, hems, and hand sewing etc with some quite tough fabrics to add to that i also have the odd oilskin (barbour) and leather to work with. I think i may be labouring under the misunderstanding that i need an industrial sewing machine. What do i need??? I am of limited needs and in the UK. Any suggestions????

  25. Douglas says:


    You should look for a compound feed machine, also called a triple-feed. Examples include the Juki 1541, Singer 111w155, Tacsew 111, Adler 467 or Pfaff 1245.

  26. I just got my first industrial machine, last week! It has taken this long to force myself to put it all together. It’s a compound walking foot…I’m so stoked about working on it, this coming week!

  27. khan says:

    hi i just want to know .i m using invisible nylon thread. my industrial machine needle no 9 . and machine is fully automatic. and new . when i finish stitching my machine break thread and it come out from needle.. can anyone help plz…

  28. Dianne says:

    I am looking for a machine to use exclusively for my free motion quilting. I do not want a ton of ‘fancy stitches’, rather I would like sturdy straight stitcher, knee lift, up-down needle choice, lighted work space, speedy and reliable…yet does not cost an arm and a leg. Thus, I am wondering about an industrial machine. Any advice on bran, model, where to look?

  29. Kathleen says:

    I recommend going to a local dealer, even home sewing stores usually have an industrial or two around. See if the machine can be configured to perform to your expectations.

    I have seen embroidery done manually on industrials without a foot so I know it can be done but I don’t know anything more about it than that. As I recall, the machines were basic single needles without any whistles and bells and were far from new.

  30. Brina says:


    A Singer 20U would be a good choice–not sure about the up-down needle, but has all the rest of your wish list. And it does zigzag as well as straight stitch.

    The Singer 20U73 or 20U109 are advertized for free motion work–I don’t know if you can drop the feed dogs or how that would work.

    You can find this machine used and new, it’s quite a bit under $1000 new. Parts are easy to find and relatively inexpensive.

    If you can plan on sewing on what ever you plan to buy–take materials in configurations you will be sewing on so you can get something that really works for you and ask questions.

  31. Paige says:

    What industrial sewing machine merchants would you recommend? I’m eyeing a Juki 9010 – it’s my dream machine – buuuuut I want to make sure I’m buying from somewhere that actually sews the machine off and takes responsibility for the products they sell.

  32. Kathleen says:

    Hi Paige, you don’t mention where you live so no one can make suggestions.

    Machines are sewn off before being packaged and leaving the factory. A dealer will sew it off with material you send them if you’re buying for a specific application.

    I’m a bit discomfited by “takes responsibility for the products they sell”. If you buy from a web site that basically fills orders, you get what you pay for. If you want to develop a relationship (highly recommended), you go to someone as local to you as possible, someone who deals in industrial equipment and provides service.

    But anyway, it’s a two way street. You define your needs and a dealer helps you. If you just want to walk in and say “I want X” without discussion, then they can’t guarantee performance to your application and they can’t be held accountable. That said, it is pretty hard to buy a bad machine these days, particularly if you buy a major brand. In short, the dealer would have less impact on the quality of the machine than its manufacturer.

    Fwiw, the 9000 series is nice. Get the servo with CP and thread trimmer if you can afford it.

  33. Patsy says:

    I live in the uk and came across your blogs while searching for more info on using industrial machines. I love all crafts but find sewing one of the most rewarding; so now the children have all left home, I have room for an industrial machine.
    I was very lucky to get hold of an old workhorse; a Brother Industrial Sewing Machine DB2-B755-3. It only cost £150 last year, and is a real bargain. The lady was retiring and sold all her machines. Wish I had bought her overlocker too now.
    It’s amazing how many people think they are just for heavy duty materials and that you are dying to make Canvas boat and car covers or thick leather bags for them!
    I am really hooked and sew everything I can on it and wish I had had one years ago. I just need to get more information about adjusting the tension etc.
    Thank you for your interesting and helpful site, and for taking your time to help people like me.

  34. Anna says:

    I currently own an older Bernina, but due to an ongoing project I am considering buying an industrial machine. My Bernina is just not up to sewing large amounts of heavyweight fabric. Do you have any tips on what I should look for in my first industrial machine? I will be using it with heavier weight fabrics, for the most part, but my project also requires regular cotton fabric. Will this make a difference in the type of machine that I need to get?

    Thank you so much for your help!

  35. Nancy says:

    I have a really old Industrial Singer sewing machine. I have misplaced the machine needle and do not have a spare. How do I determine what needle will fit? I can’t remember if the needle eye was facing towards me or to the side. I believe it was to this side. If you can help it will be greatly appreciated. I can’t find any info anywhere on it. I bought some from our local upholsterer but they don’t work the needle hits the plate. Thanks.

  36. Mary Lawrence says:

    I was very interested in your website information. I want to start a small business/hobby venture. I have not used an industrial style sewing machine and I am not sure it is what I need. I know I will need a machine that has single stitch, but most importantly one that has a double stitch to apply attachments to a single layer of fabric (cotton) length sizes of attachment is approx. 36″ A large table or space around the machine would be great since I will be working with mattress sized fabric.

    Thank you for any comments, advice and suggestions.

  37. Avatar photo

    Mary, it sounds like you need a double needle. The Juki website is very helpful in breaking this down for you. Hmm, now that I go look around, maybe not so much anymore. Do you have an iphone or ipad? If so, you want to get the free Juki app. With the app, you can search by product type and the machine along with stitch type is handily listed. Machines are hyperlinked so you can look at each separately.

  38. tania wadzinski says:

    Reading all through the comments no one mentioned converting a 220 motor to 110. I bought a Pfaff industrial machine at an auction of a furniture company, they had a whole row of the machines and I fortunately (or unfortunately) got one. It has a Singer motor that is 3 phase 220 and I’m now finding that converting it to 110 is not going to be easy. I thought a transformer was all I needed but it’s the 3 phase part that’s the problem…..anyone else dealt with this ??

  39. Kathleen says:

    Hi Tania
    We’ve talked about that a lot, just not on this post. We talk about 3 phase all the time on the forum -every time we get somebody new who thinks he (it’s always hes) is going to add on 3 phase service, ha ha ha ha.

    On the blog, we’ve talked about it here, follow the links too and I’m sure the comments will be helpful as well.

    Congrats! Pfaff is a great brand.

  40. Hello Kathleen. What a wonderful site you have here! And you actually answer questions!! That’s so nice when often times a readers question often go unanswered.
    While I suppose I am in the category of “housewife” sewer, I use my machine daily, for various projects. I also have a quilting business, so having a machine that I can quilt with is necessary. I have “burned out” several home machines, of various prices, and it is time I look towards an industrial machine. Yet I have no idea what I should be considering! I live in northern WI, with not many places who sell such machines to choose from. From what I have read, a clutch motor would be just fine for me, since it seems those are the more basic models (I don’t need bells and whistles). And price is a large factor. For a basic machine, that has the possibility of free motion quilting (if there is such a beast) and is less than $1000, what would you suggest? (and 3 phase is not an option)
    Thank you!

  41. Sue says:

    I just stumbled upon this site and love it! I’ve had to make a career change and am sewing again after 40 some years. I’ve started up my own little business which is doing well enough I’ve take the leap to an industrial Juki! After reading the posts I’m so excited for it to arrive! The gentleman I’m buying it from will deliver, set up and even going to give me starting up lessons! My regular machine is the one I learned on, a ’57 Singer Featherweight. It’s such a great machine but obviously can’t hand duck canvas with nylon webbing very well. I’m so excited to get going on this next stage!! I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  42. Yay Sue!

    You might want to consider buying Kathleen’s book — The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing — and joining the forum. There are designer-entrepreneurs there at all levels of experience who discuss all aspects of the business, from sourcing through production to sales and marketing.

  43. Kristine says:

    Thank you for all this wonderful information! I’ve read and re-read it, and have narrowed it down to the Juki 8700 or 9000. The local dealer I’ve found spoke poorly of the servo motors though, saying that they get many that need replacement. I think this is because they supply more factories and home sewers? I’m hoping to expand my business and production in the next few years. I’m having a hard time spending double the money on the 9000, but the features sound like really nice. I’m leaning toward splurging… and I think you’d say the same?

  44. Karma Temphel N. says:

    I really admire your website. I have sent you an email with some queries. I hope to hear from you, thank you.

  45. Trace says:

    Hi Kathleen! I ran across your website yesterday and have been reading like mad! I sent you an email from the email address you requested with a couple specific questions – I have a really unique industry. I hope you have time in your busy schedule to help. Thanks!

  46. Hey Trace, if you need one-on-one consultation, Kathleen offers that.

    I suggest you buy the book and join the forum first so that you can make the best use of your consultation.

  47. Kathleen says:

    I should have followed up here so it didn’t appear as tho Trace was left hanging but I was unable to help her in a way that met her expectations.

  48. Brandie Layfield says:

    Hi Ms. KATHLEEN, I just purchashed a Consew 206-RB-5, its my first industial machine. I will be creating, designing leather and faux leather clutches. Im the kind of person that does research for a while until I make a purchase. I did get a servo motor. You made me jealous about not having a knee lift lever. Am I able to change that out once it is delivered? Can I call them before they ship and ask for the thread trimmer? Or can I have that added once it arrives. Ihave been spoiled by my domestic Singer. Thanking You Iin Advance

  49. Kathleen says:

    A walking foot machine is a whole other matter. Getting a servo on it isn’t going to provide the features I describe in this post -namely, the auto lifter and thread trimmer. For those features you need air too -and about 2 or 3 thousand more dollars. For example, I bought a Juki dnu 1541 for about $1800, delivered. The air version is 1541-7 and costs about $4300.

    I’m not familiar with the consew but would suspect that not only could you not change this out after it arrives, you couldn’t do it at all but would have to get the pneumatic version of this machine. Sorry..

  50. Last Christmas, I bought a Sewstrong WSM-8700,High Speed, 1 Needle, Lockstitch Machine from This machine’s parts is interchangeable with a Juki 8700, which they also sell on this site (actually, my machine has “Juki” stamped on the underside of it). I bought the machine that comes with a table. It all came in 3 or 4 boxes and was fairly simple to set up. I also bought the “right quilter zipper foot” (which can be found on this page:, not really knowing if it was going to work and an all metal, high shank open toe quilting foot (which I bought off E-Bay). However, the open toe foot doesn’t provide enough pressure, so I am now using the zipper foot with decent stitches. This has been a fairly recent change, for the open toe foot stopped being an effective foot, and I’m still getting used to the greater amount of pressure from the zipper foot.

    Let me tell you, using this machine for quilting comes with a steep learning curve, but it’s totally worth it! Once set, the bobbin tension is beautiful, so much so that you can use 2 different colors and have neither of them show on the opposite side. Even though I always use the slowest speed (I’m a chicken!), the stitches are nice and regular. Of course, getting the machine to work at the beginning was a trip, as well. This is NOTHING like a domestic machine, which it why we want them. Yet, there are things that are needed to know and they aren’t in the instructions. In fact, the instructions are translated from Chinese or Japanese, and not done very well either. So that tells you something…

  51. Kelly says:

    I don’t know if you can help but I want a industrial sewing machine and I have a chance of buying a Yakumo industrial sewing machine for $600.00 but I live in a little town and there isn’t anyone who specializes in them I don’t know how old it is all I know is a model number and its a Yakimo jack ump model number tdu-n62 if any one has info I would love to know anything about this make thank you.

  52. Wins says:

    Hi Kathleen keep up the good work in your website :) I’m a beginner and is still confused. Is the Juki DDL 8700 able to sew through stretchy fabrics such as jersey and hull dull? With the servo motor installed, is the speed slow enough ideal for beginners? I also read somewhere that the model is a single needle straight stitch machine. Does this mean it is capable only of straight stitching and nothing else? I’m considering the Janome 7318 for more features available like buttonhole and suitability for beginners. Hope you can shed some enlightenment. Thank you!

  53. Winona says:

    Hello! I’m wondering if you’ve heard of the brand “Artisan”? For industrial sewing on leather, thick canvas, etc.? We just purchased a used 2001 Artisan industrial sewing machine with a clutch motor that specifies use for leather goods, sporting goods, interior of automobiles, vinyl goods, canvas sheet, etc. I’m brand new at this, just trying to do some homework on it before I jump in feet first.
    Thanks, Winona

  54. Kathleen Fasanella says:

    I have heard of Artisan. It is a private label machine company; they put their brand name on a machine made by someone else. I don’t know who manufactures their machine but they’ve been around for at least 15 years, probably more. I met the owner at this hidey hole out of the way place in 2001 or so, at a leather sewing meet up in Oklahoma.

  55. Emily says:

    Hi Kathleen,

    My husband and I just purchased an industrial Juki DNU-1541S for use on leather and upholstery. I have manufactured a few leather bags already but am not loving the thread I am currently using. My question today is on thread. Do you have a preferred brand and/or weight for leather, and additionally for medium weight upholstery? I just learned about your book and am looking into buying it. It sounds fabulous!

    Much thanks, Emily

    • kathleen says:

      First, a multitude of apologies for my tardy response. In my defense, we were in the throes of manufacturing boot camp at the time.

      For leather, the preferred thread is bonded nylon in various weights. Since I use mostly garment weights (2.5 oz max), I top out at 69 (T70) but prefer lighter, depending. As far as buying it, again, we mostly do samples and prototypes so it is the customer who supplies thread for production. For odd lots, eBay has been my main source.

  56. Danielle says:

    Hi there,

    Great info thanks! I would love a servo motor but for now I am stick with a clutch motor – I haven’t used one before and am struggling to control the speed – is there a specific method to this or just trial and error?



  57. melissa says:

    help, my lovely husband bought me a Mauser 1245 something and I only have experience with my home Pfaff machine. Please help! What thread do I use for average cotton? Then ultimate goal is to make sturdy, rustic leather hand bags, help the industrial machine is lovely but scary because currently I cant keep it from breaking top thread. I read mention of a class in Portland, are there any near Northern California? help…..

    • kathleen says:

      Thread is my least favorite subject… Stu was kind enough to write a post about it:

      As to thread breakage, it is likely a threading or tension problem. When I have this problem, it is usually that the thread is hung up in the thread path, hooked around something it shouldn’t be. Trace the path first. If that doesn’t resolve it, you might try googling “my thread keeps breaking” or some such because there is a whole list of things to check.

      I wish I could help you with classes in Portland or Northern California but I’m doing well to keep up with my own. The week after next (I think), we’ll be doing free classes in my factory, mostly on the walking foot and needle feed. Attendees will be making a product (TNR trap covers) that we’re donating to charity. I’ll be posting about it later.

  58. Cathy Wightman says:

    Thank you for this info as I went to a used industrial machine/fix shop and had a bad experience with the owner not wanting to “school” me before I purchase. I was offended and left. This information you’ve provided helps me know that I can get the information myself with questions to some other people before going back to purchase a used machine.

    I also now understand my home machine better and know I shouldn’t be using it on the fabric and applications I’ve been sewing. Thanks so much!

  59. Gene Senn says:

    Hi, I stumbled across this article while trying to find info on a industrial machine I just purchased. The machine is a 1997 durkopp adler 550-12-13. It came with a manual but the manual is for a 550-12-24/26 which is close but still has some differences. Also The manual is more on the technical side and seems to leave out a lot of the basics. My previous machines have been old singers that had the power to go through the material but without a walking foot I couldn’t maintain a good seem on auto upholstery materials. I cant seem to find basic instructions on how to use this new machine. for example, I haven’t yet figured out how to revers. Pedal forward sews forward, pedal back lifts foot with nothing in between and no obvious switches on or under the machine. The manual shows proper way to thread machine but is really hard to make out. I have been having trouble pulling the piece from machine after sewing. The top thread is always looped on the bottom hook (there is no bobbin on this machine. A second spool on top threads through to the bottom of machine) and doesn’t let go until the needle is back through the material ready to start another loop. Do you have any knowledge, or could you point me to a place or forum I can get more novice info for this machine? One that is preferably in English

    Gene Senn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.