Industrial sewing machines

Kathy sent me this question:

What equipment do you recommend? Specifically, what type of sewing machine? In one of your entries you mentioned you knew what to look for in a sewing machine. Can I suggest a blog entry that actually spells out your preferences? I’m assuming its some kind of industrial machine. ( Again, if that is already in your archive, my apologies. Please just point me to it. ) Could I even consider using one or would I wind up in the emergency room with my fingers sewn to my forehead?

For several reasons I may not give an adequate answer. I’m posting this question mostly as an invitation to others in our midst who may have better advice for you. My biggest problem in answering this is that I’m easily satisfied; I’m not as machine-picky as people would think. Likewise, I don’t like fixing them either. While I’m well known to do my own plumbing, electrical, carpentry and appliance repair, I don’t like fiddling with cars or sewing machines. When it comes to those two items, I just want to sit down and go. I do have a couple of pointers for people who’ve never owned an industrial machine.

First of all, just forget that image you have in your head of a noisy, loud machine that sews far too fast for you to keep up because those days are long gone! Today’s electronic machines are as quiet as any home machine; I can’t even hear mine running. Second, you can change the speed (stitches per minute) that the machine will sew allowing you to build up speed at your comfort. Third, compared to upper end home sewing machines, industrials are dirt cheap. Even new industrial machines are half the price of those beloved Berninas -an inscrutable value in my opinion. Speaking of fine sewing machines, the upper end of industrial machines are Adlers which is not to say that there are not many other wonderful brands out there! Honestly, when you compare the price of fine industrials to upper end home machines, I don’t know why you’d get the home machine (will you really use all those embroidery stitches-enough to make it worthwhile?). Believe me, once you’ve experienced the quality of pressure available on an industrial machine, you’ll wonder why you didn’t get one years before. Forget pins! You’ll never need them again. That is something you’ll just have to experience to understand (sorry).

You can find my machine by going to Durkopp-Adler, clicking “Products” then select “Standard Sewing Machines” and mine is the fourth one down (model 271-140342). The third one down is fine too but I’d pass on the first two. Not that the first two are bad, just that they don’t have an electronic key pad. Other than electronic controls, you’d want to select a basic “dressmaker” machine with a lockstitch and automatic thread cutter. Many industrial models need compressed air to run and compressors are noisy (just ask Mike C) but these models don’t. The other thing that is great about industrial machines are the attachments. Again, most industrial attachments are half the cost of the home sewing ones and they work ten times better! These attachments are all metal so forget fiddling with dinky little pieces of chintzy plastic. Finally, you can turn real hankerchief hems without worrying and fretting.

Lastly, used machines are an excellent value too. Industrial machines have a longer life and are readily repaired with stock parts available from most suppliers. You’ll have to rely on a dealer to advise you and I’d recommend going to an industrial machine dealer and not the local sewing & vac store that just happens to have one industrial on the floor because I’d be concerned that they wouldn’t know if it really was a good machine much less be able to service the thing.

Okay everybody, feel free to jump in to tell Kathy everything I missed. And while you’re at it, post your preferred machine resources too. Thanks.

Get New Posts by Email


  1. Susan McElroy says:

    I can tell you what my experience has been and it might be more relevant to Kathy’s question as I’m not a professional seamstress (yet!) but am in the learning mode.

    If you’ve got the space for it, an industrial machine is definitely the way to go. A couple of weeks ago my sister and I hosted a little sewing seminar on making handbags, and our “home” machines were really struggling by the time all those pocket/flap/zipper layers were being joined. I couldn’t take it any more and went over to the industrial (which in laziness I hadn’t threaded up for a while or wound bobbins) and it went through those layers like a hot knife through butter. Tiny stitch-length, too. My sister moved over to the industrial (an ordinary straight-stitch Singer) and wouldn’t move back. I’m trying to thread up a Juki 5-thread industrial serger that I paid 1300 dollars for; that’s the same as I paid for my little fancy Baby-Lock “Imagine” that is very cool but weighs a tiny fraction of the other and just isn’t going to hold up to the workout we plan to give our serging projects. I do have the advantage of machinists in the family, but if you look hard enough, there are bound to be people in your town who can help out with the machines. (Somehow, it’s kind of addictive to work with these things) Go for it…you can get a good industrial for a few hundred dollars; just be ready for the weight!

  2. Susan McElroy says:

    Another note: Remember that the one thing home machines offer that industrials don’t always is flexibility. Personally, I don’t want all those fancy stitches either, but some industrials don’t even do zig-zag. Some do. I would say go with Kathleen’s advice, and be sure to ask questions if you want extras like buttonholes, for example; I don’t know how these are done with industrial machines or if you always go with a separate machine. Also, don’t worry about being afraid of the “power”. They can go just as slow as you like with just a little practice, and they’re no more dangerous to the operator who uses the same hand movements as the home sewer. I’d never let little kids play around underneath though! Sometimes the belts are exposed!

  3. I’ve only had an industrial for ~9 months, and I’m pretty hooked. Mine’s not a regular one, though–it’s a zig-zag machine by Pfaff. Although it sews a fine straight-stitch
    (and a killer zig-zag), it sometimes skips stitches in tightly knit jerseys. This problem would probably be fixed by using a different needle (I keep forgetting to buy them when I’m at the right store), but I’ve used a zig-zag industrial/commercial by Bernina, and it skipped too, so maybe it’s a zig-zag thing?

    The other downside to the zig-zag is that standard attachments don’t fit it, and delicate fabrics tend to het sucked down the throat plate. So, I just bought myself a Brother Exedra that looks alot like Kathleen’s. I got it for nearly freee, but it needs a few parts–does anyone have experience on the Brother Exedra?

    For me, the best part of industrial sewing machines is that the repair guys will travel to your place to repair it. They’re expensive, but not as expensive as getting a *%#@#$^ domestic machine fixed, and in my experience the repair is better, too.
    Oh, and they are easier to fix yourself if you’re reasonably handy. I taught myself how to fix the timing on my Pfaff. (don’t ask me how I got the timing off; it doesn’t happen naturally the way it does with domestics)

    Like I said, I’m not a veteran, so I can’t offer too much advice, but I recommend getting the Universal Sewing Supply catalog– or something similar– to start educating yourself about available attachments (which they call “single needle guages”).
    Now that I’ve devoured that catalog several times, I have a couple questions for those of you who are more experienced:

    Q1: I’ve noticed the availability of a feed dog/needle plate set that’s supposed to eliminate puckering/ease. Does anyone have this, and would you recommend it?

    Q2: what are “compensating” feet for?

    Q3: there’s a mysterious description next to one of the darning feet/plate/dogs sets that describes it as being for perfectly even topstitching. how in heck do you get perfectly even stitches while darning?

    Q4: which attachements are the best bang for the buck?

  4. Oh yeah, and if you’re in the Bay Area, I’m selling a used 3-thread serger (Willcox& Gibbs). It’s been fixed & tuned up by a professional, and thouroughly cleaned (I cleaned it, but the professional repair guy was pretty impressed with the job I did). e-mail me if you’re interested–my e-mail is on my website, linked from my name under this comment.

  5. Gigi says:

    A subject near and dear to my heart! And on the same day I bought my 5th industrial – a Kansai Special coverstitch machine. :-) I sew purely for my own pleasure. I have a Bernina 1530 domestic which I absolutely adore along with a couple of others. But, their lifespan is limited while an industrial can last your entire life! A few years ago I bought my first industrial zigzag (Singer 20U-33) and was immediately hooked. Then, along came the Juki serger, a blindstitch, a Merrow 2DNR and now a coverstitch. Next, I’d love to have a Consew 206RB walking foot but I’m afraid I’m out of space! Once you start using industrials it’s hard to go back to a domestic machine. It takes very little time to get used to – and control – the speed. Kathleen’s right, they are dirt cheap compared to domestics. I paid more for one of my home sergers than I did for my industrial. Best of all, industrials are truly an investment. I like knowing that I’ll most likely never have to buy another serger as long as I live.

  6. Josh says:

    The scariest thing about an industrial sewing machine is changing the motor when it burns out and if used a lot (6 hours of use a day, which some of mine get) it will someday. Changing the motor is an art and I have perfected it. I should write a tutorial on how to change a motor with ease. If anyone wants me to I will.

    If anyone has gotten an industrial machine in it’s 3 main pieces; motor, table, sewing machine and you put it together yourself you should know how to change the motor. But I can still give you some tips on how to make it easy. These motors are the bulk of the weight of these machines and if dropped on your foot, ouch that would hurt.

    Nothing scarier than turning on your machine and having smoke billow out of it. Especially when you have a deadline that day. But that’s how you know your motor is gone. I’ve never had a motor stop in the middle of sewing. It’s always when you first turn it on. It’s just dead silence and puffs of rubber smelling smoke. That’s been my experience.

    The best thing you can do to prevent your motor from going bad is blowing it out with a vac every week. Keeping the entire machine cleaned out and well oiled is very important.

    Motors are 140 bucks and you can easily order them from south star supply.

    When someone asks me why they should get an industrial sewing machine vs. a home sewing machine I say “Do you want to shovel snow with a tablespoon or a very large snow shovel?” That’s pretty easy to answer.

    To respond to what Susan was saying about buttonholes. Yes, you need a separate machine for buttonholes.

    If I had a digital camera that worked I could show you one of my compensating feet Jinjer. I’m not sure how to describe it. It’s a foot that has part of it that moves up. So you can do things like sew evenly at the end of something (for instance the end of a pillow case), one side of the foot stays down just touching the edge of the fabric and the second part is on top of the fabric keeping it still. You can buy left and right compensating feet which is good when you are sewing something that won’t fit under the machine. They come in several lengths, like 1/8 in, 1/16. It’s mostly for sewing on the very edge of something and so you get a straight line. I hope I’m making since I’m not very good and explaining things.

  7. Carol says:

    Re: regular cleaning.

    Everyone I know of who works on machines, both home and industrial, recommends sucking rather than blowing them clean. Many places have small attachment kits for your vacuum/shopvac. Pushing lint etc. into the mechanisms isn’t good for anything.

    The worst is leaning over and puffing at them by mouth. Then you add humidity.

    Regular cleaning and oiling – absolutely!

  8. Ed Lamoureux says:

    Whether you want an industrial machine depends on the type and amount of sewing you intend to do and the quality you expect in your finished product. Low volume production using lightweight fabrics can probably use a good quality family machine. High volume, and/or heavy fabrics almost demand the strength, speed, and reliability of industrial equipment. The main difference between industrial machines and family-use machines is that many industrial machines are designed to perform ONE task and perform it very well. Family-use machines are a compromise designed to do everything and as a result perform some tasks inadequately. A perfect example is buttonholes – read all the postings on various forums complaining about the poor quality of buttonholes formed on family-use machines, then look at any item of commercially produced clothing and see what the buttonholes look like. The machine that made those buttonholes will do nothing but sew buttonholes 16 hours a day, 5 days a week, but don’t try to use it to install a zipper! The vast majority of industrial machines are straight stitch only because that’s the kind of sewing that’s performed most in factories. Most manufacturers recommend that a one-half horsepower motor be used on their machines. Using this powerful motor, some industrial machines you can achieve a sewing speed of 4500 spm (stitches per minute). Family-use sewing machines motors are usually rated at one-tenth horsepower. The power is limited because of the motor size, so they use a pulley or gearing system to increase the power while producing a slower stitch speed. Most household sewing machines sew at a maximum of 800 spm. Sometimes terms like “semi-industrial”, “heavy duty”, and “industrial strength” are used to imply that a household sewing machine has the power of an industrial. In these cases, the buyer should verify the actual motor power and stitching speed.

    If you decide to look at a used machine, check the price of any needed parts before buying. I bought a used Pfaff 144 double-needle machine that was missing the feed dog. Knowing that feed dogs for Singers cost in the neighborhood of $20, I willingly gave the $135 for the Pfaff. When I went to order a Pfaff feed dog, the dealer gave me a quote of $695 for just the feed dog! He told me I was lucky I didn’t need a throat plate too, because that would add another $350! I have never owned an Adler, but hear that replacement parts for them are similarly priced.

    Recently, 1/4 hp DC servomotors have been introduced that make an industrial machine perform more like a domestic machine. The motor does not run until you push on the pedal. I have one of these mounted on one of my power stands and find that it reduces the noise level to almost zero, without sacrificing power. DC servomotors cost in the neighborhood of $150 and directly replace the old clutch motors that run constantly.

  9. Susan Cassini says:

    If there is one thing I want to be buried with it is my industrial Juki! I bought it brand new and it was under $1000.00. It will outlive me as they last literally forever! There is a machine I know of in a local shop that is over 90 years old and still going strong.
    I acquired my industrial serger (Brother) and Merrow machines for a song when the designer I worked for closed her business. All these machines have paid for themselves over and over. The man who works on my machines is a cute little old gentleman from the old country. He comes to my house to service mine- (he won’t come for home machines.) He only charges $40.00 to come out and extra for whatever parts I might need. I get all my needles and feet, bobbins etc. from him. I bought an extra bobbin case just in case mine breaks. He says he’s one out of three known servicemen left in Michigan that work on industrial machines and he’s the youngest! I don’t know what I will do when he’s gone. I pray for his health daily. Meanwhile I try to learn as much as I can from him. He says no one wants to learn how to fix these machines anymore. It’s a dying art.
    I’ve owned several home machines, including sergers in my life and they are all gone now. I don’t need anything more than these three machines. I have a cheap home machine for buttonholes and a cute little 5 pound cheapie for travel.
    When I recommend a machine for someone just starting out and just wanting to home sew I tell them to not bother with all the fancy stitches. All you really need is a zig-zag, a free arm and a buttonholer.
    And Jinjer, your timing can be off by just hitting something and breaking a needle. Also, Larry, my service guy from the Old Country, says you don’t need a ball point needle to sew knits. There is a knob on top of the machine directly over the needle that you tighten. I sew a lot of knits and believe me this works.

  10. Christy Fisher says:

    I’m a “low volume” factory compared to a mass brand. We have 9 industrial and semi industrial knitting machines, so we sew a lot of sweater knits. Most of my workers are from home, so we use a variety of “off the shelf” home machines. There is one little 2/3/4 serger that we have was under $200 and does a kickbutt rolled hem.. It’s a Brother1034D (they used to carry it at WalMart!). We also love the little Gemsy semi-industrial coverstitch machine (another under $200 machine) We have used both for 4 or 5 years with no problems. The 1034D has a ton of attachments (metal) for inserting piping, trim, etc. We have a designated old White machine that we use for buttonholes. It is a battleship and is beautiful..does great keyhole buttonholes.
    Recently I bought a Singer QuantumXL6000 (yes one of those bells and whistles machines). I bought it strictly for the embroidery (It does a large format without paying $120000). I do art items rather than general mass production
    (Kathleen can cringe now ;-)..Our runs are 100-500 units per style.
    I am going to be purchasing a Juki 5 thread safety for the studio because we are getting into some linen coordinates and some denim. I have always loved the Jukis and have owned a few of them. I will also be buying one of the Merrow 70s machines for edge trim.
    Our closest indutrial sales/repair is 2 hours away, so that is one of the reasons I decided to “go light” when I moved to the hills and got back into hiring homeworkers.

  11. Dave says:

    If any of you reading this post about industrial
    sewing machines are considering buying one or any related ancillary production equipment, I would suggest you contact a company called Liquid Surplas (864-583-7236, ) They regularly send me emails detailing all available equipment they are selling. The list is endless, and they sometimes attach a price, so you know you can make an offer. Good Luck!

  12. Jess says:

    Here’s a question that I’ve been pondering for a while. Should new feed dogs be sharpened? I used to work for someone that said that new feed dogs should always be sharpened. Anyone know for a fact if this is neccesary?

  13. Cinnamon says:

    I have Juki TL98E. It’s marketed to quilters primarily. But it sews great through up to 10 layers of denim, cost me about $700, has tons of add-ons, is completely mechanical so I could probably fix it myself if I had to. While it’s a little more fussy than some home machines, I’ve been using it quite a bit for the past two years and all I’ve had to do is oil and clean it and it runs great and is very, very quiet.

    It doesn’t have a free arm or do zig-zag (and therefore no decorative) stitches. So I think my next purchase will be for a machine that does some embroidery work (at least a 4″ design) with a free arm. I’d love to have suggestions. The world of embroidery machines are very overwhelming.

  14. And Jinjer, your timing can be off by just hitting something and breaking a needle.

    Nope, I know how the timing got off–I jammed the bobbin case in, ignoring the extra friction caused by a wad of thread stuck in there. I was unable to get it back out, so I pulled out the screwdriver…and discovered they mechanism that controls the timing. Wish I’d taken a photo before taking it apart, becasue you adjust the timing by feel, there’s no notch or anything to tell you you’re in the right place.

    Also, Larry, my service guy from the Old Country, says you don’t need a ball point needle to sew knits. There is a knob on top of the machine directly over the needle that you tighten.

    which direction? I’ve messed with that knob (it’s the presser foot pressure, right?), but I can’t figure out if it’s getting better or worse… I only have this problem on silk jersey.

  15. Jess says:

    Dave, yes feed dogs are not sharpened when you buy them new. The must be sharpened yourself or get someone else to do them.

  16. admin question: Is it possible to move this (fabulous!) discussion to the discussion board? There are so many comments, I almost missed a few (I knew there was a reason I usually check this site 6 times a day!)

  17. Josh says:

    lol I answered my twin brothers question about the feed dogs and thought it was Dave asking it, and accidently answered in his name.

  18. Josh says:

    ok I’m recanting what I’ve said about the feed dogs. I really don’t know. I just know that this is what my old boss told me once. This is an argument that Jess and I get into. I think I’m right, he thinks he’s right. But I do know that feed dogs can become dull when used a lot and they need sharpening. And if I’m remembering correctly I’ve bought new feed dogs for a machine and had to sharpen them. That’s all I’m saying.

  19. Debbie Soles says:

    snipped from Christy’s post:
    “There is one little 2/3/4 serger that we have was under $200 and does a kickbutt rolled hem.. It’s a Brother1034D (they used to carry it at WalMart!).”

    I’ve had the Brother Lock 925D Serger for almost 13 yrs. I love this serger, it has done everything from apparel to home dec without ever missing a beat…or stitch!:) Talk about a great work horse! And I also have a Singer 35 stitch, don’t even know the model number..this is the best sewing machine, had it about the same length of time as the serger, never found another sewing machine I love as much as this one. Both of these machines outsew my fancier, more expensive machines. I service my machines (except the electronics), and those two are the easiest. I’ve recently found by someone’s trash a New Home, in the process of getting it back in working order, can’t wait!:)

    For what it’s worth, and this post isn’t worth much:), I have yet to use most of the fancy stitches on my Janomes…and I have now grown to hate these Janome machines, both sewing and serger. They are not meant for tall left handed sewists!!!

  20. patrica stroup says:

    After reading about the Gemsy semi-industrial coverstitch machine in the above post, I decided that I’d buy one. I googled it, came up with a dealer in New York ( I live in Texas) and placed an order online. The dealer called today to say that he was no longer selling it because of so many complaints. Darn. I’d like a coverstitch machine. Anyone else out there can recommend one that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg….I’m just a home sewer. I have a Berninia Coverstitch/serger that only likes to serge….every time I convert it it breaks and I have to take it to my Bernina dealer (and he cusses under his breath and says these machines are a pain in the you know what. I’m no sewing machine novice, I take care of all my sewing machines and am pretty good mechinally….

    • Jeffrey says:

      Honestly patrica I would buy an industrial coverstitch machine.I know that they are more expensive but whatever you paid for that Bernina,you could have probably almost bought a real industrial coverstitch machine.I had a huskvarna that was 1200 dollars about 10 years ago and also was a serger that converted to a coverstitch.It was a 1200 dollar piece of junk!!!!When I got to a side seam it would not even go over it without breaking thread or a needle.Not to mention the pain of switching it over.Now,im not saying that industrial coverstitch machines are not temperamental but they are 1000 times better then home machines.I have a kansai special coverstitch machine and it works pretty good.It is a 5 thread which means it does top and bottom coverstitch.I can sew over seams with no problem.It does skip sometimes but a mechanic said that I probably need ball point needles for knits.So anyways,that is my two cents or maybe 4 lol.Good luck in you search for a good machine.

  21. paosinis says:

    I was wondering….I´m being offered a Brother Exedra that is in pretty good shape for a very good price, Susan McElroy cited that she had bought one, does she or someone else have an opinion on this machine. What are it´s advantages and disadvantages?. Do you recommended.
    My production is small and mostly knit, i already have a Brother overlock that works wonderfully though it´s kinda old.
    i would really appreciate if someone could give me a hand with this!!

  22. Patty says:

    I do a lot of hems for ladies and men pants. It there a hem machine that serges the edges like a four thread serger as well blind hems? Right now I have to serge the edges and then take it to my sewing machine and do a blind hem. I’d like a machine that does both. Is there such a machine? Should I be looking at an industrial machine? When you get hems done at a professional seamstress, those pants look like its done as one operation. Any information would be helpful. Thanks.

  23. Industrial coverstitch machines

    A recent visitor wrote: I am with a small clothing company and we are looking to buy a coverstitch machine for sample making. Can you suggest any machines? Should it be an industrial machine or do you think we could…

  24. Samantha says:

    Thanx everyone for the machine imput. I’m still in learning mode myself, and in the middle of putting together a small collection. I’m working with knits and jerseys. So…**on the same note as above** I guess I need a serger/coverstitch machine (anything else???…i’m still a newbie when it comes to finishes). Is there a machine that can do both/all? I want to invest in a industrial serger/coverstitch /etc… Good idea/bad idea? HELP?!?!

  25. marilynn says:

    In their current sales flyer they have a Consew coverstitch overlock on sale for $435 which is a portable tabletop. They also have a Reliable blindstitch (industrial) for $949. A blind hemmer does nothing but blind hem and the machine is tricky to learn. The coverstitch overlocks the hem but you are working from the top of the garment with 2 needles so you see the hem, like the hem on a t-shirt. Therefore, you can’t both cover AND blindhem a garment, you have to pick one. If you’re working knits, they don’t fray, just unravel, so maybe you don’t need to cover them, but that’s choice you have to make.

  26. Jennifer says:

    Hello everyone I am new to the sewing business. I am in the process of learning about industrials. I am in a small town with only two sewing repair shops none of which seem to know much about industrials so I come to places like this to absorb knowledge.

    My question is, Can you use a walking foot industrial for light wieght fabrics? I purchased a pfaff 145 for heavy work but I was wondering if I needed to purchase another machine for light wieght work.
    Also I picked up a 5 thread industrial Yamata at my local thrift store for 90.00 and have no clue on how to use it . Is there any one that would know where to get a manual or a generic industrial serger know how book and does anyone know much about the Yamata industrial sergers?
    Thanks so much,

    • Mollie Guidry says:

      I bought one of these used for 500. No instruction Manuel . I am 82 yrs old. I spent 2 months tinkering it hit. Finally had it half way working. I located a dealer in Dallas they were nice enough to send me a copy of the manual. I would think if you. Can find a dealer in your area they could help you out. I am just a little old lady that loves to sew and mostly loves equipment. I have 3 surgers 3 Berninas Artista 180, consew industrial, 1 US Blndstitch, 1 Pfaff 118, commercial, and 1 Pfaff 260.

  27. suki says:

    hello all,

    i have a question – can a reputable blind hemmer solely overlock also?

    it would save me having to buy two separate machines if it can.


  28. J C Sprowls says:

    A blind hem does not overlock or overcast – though, it could be an interesting experiment.

    You can use an upturn clean hemmer attachment to achieve a blind rolled edge using the blind hem machine. And, you can also: padstitch lapels, attach waistband curtains, and make belt loop holders, too.

    Sometimes it just takes a little experimentation!

  29. linda says:

    found this group doing a search on merrow industrial sergers, I got a real old one Merrow style 60W serial num 48060 and can’t find a threading diagram and what size needle it uses the top needle is broke any help is needed, I am trying to get machines for a alteration shop.
    Thanks Linda

  30. Carmen says:

    I just need advise on what type of machine I should purchase. I do the hems on pants, slacks and service coats for the Air Force Junior ROTC program at the local high school. I also do alterations such as letting out and taking in of seams. What slows me down the most is the hemming part. At the beginning of the school year, I will have about 100 to 150 uniforms to hem. Should I be looking at a merrow hem machine? What type of price would I be looking at?

    Your advise would be appreciated.

  31. Doctor G says:

    I am seeking information for a friend who does not have computer access. He is starting a new business in my community, though he is an experienced tailor. He is considering the purchase of an industrial sewing machine as soon as possible. Based on what I’ve read in the discussions here, it looks like he will also need a set-up and a repair person. Two questions are asked and Hopefully, someone can suggest(how to begin the search for a person to set-up an inductrial sewint machine? Is this an expensive proposition say for a Juki or Singer brand? Also, I am looking for maitanance/repair person)living in thie Northern Virginia, Washington, DC metro area? (also could consider Baltimore metro area, as well). What a process for beginning these seaches? Thanks

  32. Linda Queen says:

    I have enjoyed reading all this info. I have a Rex serger and a Babylock. I love the Rex much more even tho it is the oldest of the 2. I also have a hemmer and I love it todeath. I now want to buy an industrial machine and a embrodiery machine. I have been sewing on an industrial machine at a jobsite,and I just love the speed of those machines. (Brother & Juki)

  33. Margo says:

    I am also looking for a repair person for an industrial machine in the Washington, DC Metro area….. Any ideas? My only leads are a sew and vac shop in Bethesda, MD, but I still haven’t confirmed that this is a service they provide.

  34. Tara says:

    I live in Alexandria Va, I recently inherited a Union Special Serger from my grandfather who used to make buffing wheels in his shop. I need a repair and service person to look at it. I am wondering if anyone has located anyone in the DC area yet that can do industrial repairs?

  35. Connie sikora says:

    You can go to and you will be able to find people that are professional window treatment fabricators in your area. You can contact any of them and they would be happy to help you find a repair person!

  36. LizPf says:

    I’d like to put in a good word for the home sewing machine.

    Not everyone here is in the industry — I’m not. I’m a home sewer, doing a variety of projects, mostly clothing and household objects. [I hate the term “home dec”.] I don’t have the money or space for several industrial machines.

    A year ago, I bought myself a new machine. I wanted a high quality, simple machine that does the basics very well, but doesn’t blow its reliability on silly features. [I don’t do machine embroidery or quilting, and have no plans to ever do so.] I could only find one machine that met my needs, a Viking 775. It’s sturdy, has adjustable presser foot pressure, a locking reverse stitch, and needle up/down. It makes good buttonholes. Yes, it has eight bazillion stitch patterns, but a good quarter of them are actually useful for garment fabrics. [And since my kids are interested in anime, I may have use for the kanji alphabet :-)]

    This machine is perfect for my needs so to me it is the “best” machine. Unfortunately, it has been discontinued, replaced by yet another “quilter’s special” that probably has a special setting for toilet paper covers.

  37. sfriedberg says:

    Pam, eBay prices are currently running $1,000-1,200 for new machines, and that seems consistent with a couple of trade websites I checked. I see one used on eBay $700, which would be a respectable price. Used at $500 would be a rock bottom price.

    I should add, my pricecheck wasn’t restricted to the -2 model. A lot of the ones I ran across are -4 or -5 models. Don’t know how much of a difference there is between the models, or if that affects price.

  38. jane says:

    Hi Jennifer — I’m like you. Recently bought an old Pfaff 145 that I know is good for heavy canvas, but i havn’t sewn anything light weight with it. How has your experience been? I plan to give it a try anyway, but I’d love to hear any suggestions you might have.

    Jane in Seattle

  39. Dorothy in Arizona says:

    I have a Yamata walking foot industrial and it is so loud I almost need to wear ear protection. It sews great – is just so loud.) I also have another regular industrial sewing machine (not a walking foot) and it sews like a dream.

  40. Annie Kim says:

    I am a home sewer looking for my first serger. I work mainly with lightweight knits.

    I would love to get an industrial machine for the handling and reliability…. I am concerned that this very old house that I live in won’t be able to handle the electrical requirements of an industrial.

    I’ve heard only very good reviews of the Brother 1034D, which Walmart sells for $200. I don’t know how well it works with lightweight knits.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!

  41. Kathleen says:

    Pattern Review is a better resource for getting help with home machines.

    My Adler (which runs on regular household current) draws a bit over 5 amps at top speed. By comparison, my household vacuum cleaner uses 12 amps. The only thing that trips a breaker in my 100+ year old house is the dryer.

  42. Autumn says:

    i recently purchased a juki industrial serger, mo 3616, 5 thread, i love it! though i cant for the life of me figure out how to thread it so it can perform 4 thread overlock. my manual dont show me how either but i was watching a youtube video about the machine and the video showed this machine is capable of 3/4/5

  43. Donna says:

    My first introduction to industrial machines was total intimidation. Once I got past that I bought a Mitsubishi at the recommendation of the shop that serviced the schools machines. Later I picked up a used Remoldi overlock and can’t imagine sewing without either machine. I also have a blind hem machine. I recently purchased the Janome Horizon to replace my old Janome. I do need all these machines and the the Horizon is the first home sewing machine that really got everything right for a home machine. And just for fun I have an Elna Lotus to take to classes. I can even put it in a suit case.

  44. Joelle Hodson says:

    Yet another thing to add to my to-do list: research machine purchase. I’m starting to sew more knits which makes the list of potential machines longer. I’ve used a large industrial coverstitch machine at work (alteration shop) and found it to be a very picky machine. I’d like to have one that’s easy to use but is reasonably priced.

  45. LizziD says:

    Ladies (and gents?), HELP! Just come into a bit of money & desperate to invest in a decent machine! I’ve killed so many domestic machines running them hard, I’m SICK of the darn things!!! I make a lot of craft/art/textile pieces. I want something that has a solid motor, quietish, must be able to straight stitch & zig zag, need variable stitch length and a high raise on the pressure foot (I work with faux furs, thick fabrics & quilting). Sick of not being able to even get my quilting under the pressure foot of a domestic machine! Portable too if possible. Can anyone help, or suggest a good place to research? Be very, very grateful. Many thanks XX

  46. Kathleen says:

    An industrial won’t do both a zig zag and straight stitch, only one or the other. An industrial also isn’t portable. You can do research at PatternReview on the home machines.

  47. LizziD says:

    Thank you so much Kathleen. Just getting started on my research, this has helped! And thanks for the link, going there now. :)

  48. Brina says:

    There are any number of industrials that do both straight and zigzag. One example is a Pfaff 118. Most of these machines are sold as artisan machines or marketed to tailors or alteration rooms. But they are bonafide industrials. For the most part though these machines are not made for heavy or Xtra thick materials–so hard to say if they would work for your projects/materials. The Pfaff 438–although an older machine– is made for heavier materials and still does both zig and SS.

    Sailrite and some other companies make portable machines that are supposed to be comparable to industrials–I’ve not tried these machines and don’t remember right off the top if they both zig and SS.

    Motors, you decide on whether you want a servo–quieter or clutch.
    You can try some of the Yahoo sewing groups for more info on industrials.

    Good luck.

  49. Brina says:

    No, Alison, they are industrials (see below). The Pfaff models I mention were and are often in factories, set-up to do a particular process, say binding or cording.

    The only machines I would consider semi-industrial are machines like the Bernina 950, which have a number of stitches you can choose from, use regular Bernina feet but is set up in a stand with an industrial motor. I’ve seen these advertized as both commercial and industrial.

    In my experience the term “commercial” is synonymous with industrial. Anyone advertizing “industrial strength” or “heavy duty” machines is trying to sell a tricked out domestic machine as something it is not. It may sew through cans or 12 layers of denim, but really should not have a study diet of that kind of work. Machines may be marketed for the “spectrum between industrial and factory use” but basically there are domestic machines and industrials and the sort of hybrid-creatures I call semi-industrials above. Industrials are build to take the kind of use they would have in a factory–running 8 or more hours a day, 5 or more days a week. Even if you only use them to alter clothing at a dry cleaners, they are still industrials. Now if it’s a crappy industrial, that another thing entirely. And also some people use domestics for commercial purposes, like small sewn manufacturing concerns. But the machines are what they are.

  50. Karen says:

    I have started making dog beds and, of course, have found that my household sewing machine (30 years old) is not doing the job. I have so many questions I don’t know where to start but I will begin with this one: If I want a machine that does zigzag and buttonholes do I look for that feature in the machine or are those attachments that I purchase? I would think that the zigzag would be built in and the buttonhole would be an attachment but I haven’t figured that out yet from reading about the different machines.

  51. Karen says:

    Okay, with a renewed mind this morning from reading so much yesterday I now realize that I will have to get a different machine for each of the processes I just asked about – zigzag and buttonholes!

  52. jan says:

    Bernina 950 vs Bernin1230
    Hello All, I am new at sewing and would like to make some faux fur blankets.
    I have been looking at a Bernina 950 and a Bernin1230 to purchase, (used)
    but not sure which route to go. I need something fairly easy to use. The are both
    selling at an estate sale this Thursday so I am trying to educate myself fast!
    Any input would be greatly appreciated!!

  53. Zach says:

    I have been using the Ultrafeed LSZ-1 from Sailrite or roughly 20 years now and I absolutely love it! It is both a straight stitch and a zig-zag. I have sewn everything from denim, leather, to linens and have been nothing but thoroughly impressed with the machines’ quality. At first with the lighter materials I had problems but the customer service offered by the company and various adjustments the machine possesses are unsurpassable. If you want a truly lasting machine that can sew virtually any fabric use the Ultrafeed (I have not tried sewing through a can as mentioned above, maybe I will give it a try!). It is rather expensive, but for the jobs I was using it for and the time is has been in service the price seems undervalued. I would not recommend it if you do not do a ton of sewing as that is what it is made for and makes the price seem even more exorbitant.

  54. Samreen says:

    Hi kathy!
    Is an industrial sewing machine is equal to heavy duty machine with industrial motor?
    I wanna buy an industrial machine and former is way cheaper than latter… Please suggest

  55. Tam Dl says:

    I bought a Merrow industrial serger for 200 for the head only, and got a Singer with table, motor, everything, for 75 dollars (only thing missing was threading instructions…. They do take up a lot of space, but that really isn’t the machine so much as the workstation. I have a few machines I like having around, but don’t use all that much, and I am putting them slowly one wheeled posts. They don’t take up so much space and can be wheeled up next to a table to carry any overflow.

    The Sailrite is a mixed bag. Certainly the owners are high end people, who could easily be marketing some 100M dollar business. They are super. Unfortunately a little hard to deal with because they have drawn so much attention to themselves that you now have to get through the gates to get service. But the main point, while I use my Sailrite like an industrial sewing machine, it’s real purpose is sewing sails. And specifically sewing in the field where motor type, package, and hand crank are critcal factors, and I needed that stuff.

    The machine is over-priced, and over-proprietary for what it is. Getting a foot is like 50 bucks. All that service costs, and they have really served to keep the price of the home sail making hobby to a level where you might as well just order new. That’s a 1980s model. You can get a great servo motor and Zig Zag walking foot head for a few hundred off the Bay.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

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