Has long been a teacher of English Literature, after the retirement focused on freelance copywriting. She’s now our full-time writer since our website allows her to know more about the hobby of her lifetime – sewing.
A professional fashion designer and seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step instructions on how to sew a summer skirt.
Last updated: January 28, 2021
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If you intend to sew thick fabric like denim and leather or multiple layers of material regularly, you need the best heavy duty sewing machine which is equipped with industrial strength features that can handle heavy fabric, advanced quilting projects and a large volume of stitching assignments. It is a more durable investment than a standard sewing machine because it is more resistant to wear and tear and requires less maintenance.
This review evaluates important features such as durability, speed, pre-set stitches, weight, needle threading, and components like the bobbin and feed dog, which determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the sewing machine. You will obviously want a model that will last, with an adjustable feed dog which can advance bulky fabric and a high sewing speed to expedite the stitching process so you can complete the project on time. Pre-set stitches provide a variety of sewing options while automatic needle threading and convenient placement of bobbin are labor-saving. The weight of the sewing machine matters because it will influence its stability, portability and storage.
All the information you require to make your decision has been included in this review. There is a comparison table ranking the performance of the best models based on reviews by verified buyers, experts and authoritative review sites. We have analyzed the features of each of the models and got you a detailed description and included a comprehensive buying guide which explores the different types of heavy duty sewing machines, their capabilities and the key features to consider when choosing the best heavy duty sewing machine. You will also learn how to work with thick fabric and get answers to common questions in the FAQ section. At the end of this review is a summary of our best three selections from the list of products below.
A powerful 1.0 amp motor, multiple stitches, sturdy metal construction, and the ability to sew multi-layered fabric are some of the features that has won over several buyers who consider this model the best heavy duty sewing machine.
A visual diagram on the front of the unit displays the 18 built-in stitches. This makes it easy to identify and select the stitches. The machine also includes a one-step buttonhole and reverse stitch to secure the seams.
You can adjust the presser foot, thread tension and stitch length up to 4.0 mm and width up to 6.5 mm, and the built-in needle threader, thread cutter and automatic bobbin winding saves you plenty of time and effort. The bobbin plate has a transparent case which allows you to monitor thread supply.
The 5-piece feed dog moves the fabric smoothly to prevent bunching up of fabric while the free arm makes sewing cuffs, hems and collars a breeze. The bright light bulb illuminates your working space to improve visibility when working with dark fabric or at night.
The unit comes with a hard case which keeps dust away and improves portability and storage. Other accessories include a seam ripper, bobbins, needles, instruction manual, and seven presser feet consisting of rolled hem, zipper, blind hem stitch, sewing, zigzag, overedge, and buttonhole foot.
Some users noted the foot pedal sliding on tiled floors so you may need to add traction by placing pads under the pedal.
Brother is a well-known brand which has been in existence for several decades, and this model is undoubtedly their best for quilting and sewing heavy fabric. It has a high speed of 1500 stitches per minute which can sew a variety of projects in quick succession and a stitch length of up to 7 mm. Thread tension is adjusted manually with a dial.
Other convenient features include a vertical bobbin system as well as a needle threader and an automatic thread cutter which is easily accessed by pressing a button.
There are seven presser feet and four adjustable feed dog settings which stitch a large range of fabric, including velvet, with smooth consistency. By using the color-coded knob, you can adjust the pressure of the selected presser foot to match the height of the feed dog for fabric of varying thickness. A detachable knee-lifter allows you to operate the presser foot with your knee so you can free your hand for other sewing tasks.
Quilting requires a large working space and this sewing machine achieves this with a spacious table measuring 5.7 x 8.6 inches while the LED light improves visibility when working with dark fabric.
The main drawback of this model is the absence of variety in built-in stitches; it only features one straight stitch. Other users also found the bobbin system difficult to operate and the thread cut by the automatic cutter a bit short which necessitated constant rethreading.
A serger machine secures your hems and seams and gives them a neater look through overlock stitching which uses a combination of stitches to prevent frayed edges, especially in knitted fabric. It also saves you the time you would spend cutting the fabric since it trims the fabric as it sews it.
Singer 14T968DC is a versatile machine with a wide selection of built-in stitches, numerous accessories and several automated features which will save time and effort. It is considered an industrial serger for its power and speed.
It comes with 2-3-4-5 thread capability which provides plenty of stitching options that will improve your imagination and add creativity to your work. There are four built-in rolled hems which are activated using an accessible lever which positions the stitch finger. This model also enables you to make three types of cover stitches, a function that is rare in other serger machines.
Both the stitch length and width are adjustable and you can also count on its sewing speed of 1300 stitches per minute to complete your assignment in a short time frame.
It eliminates guesswork through the automated self-adjusting tension system which selects the right tension from a chart. The color-coded threading diagram provides a useful reference guide.
This model has a heavy duty metal frame which will give you several years of service. Additional accessories include needles, tweezers, cone adapters, cutting blade, power cord, oiler, anti-spill thread net, a dust cover, and an instructional CD workbook.
Skilled and intermediate users will love to explore the endless stitching possibilities and the advanced features of this machine but beginners may find it intimidating and some have reported their struggles when threading. Yet there are many of the best sergers for beginners to learn and advance with.
Toyota is better known as an automaker but it also makes sewing machines, and this model is deemed the best heavy duty sewing machine for denim. Its gliding foot can seamlessly sew up to 12 layers of denim without skipping a stitch.
It is equipped with 17 built-In stitches which can be selected by turning the dial to the stitch and matching the stitch with the corresponding number on the stitch panel on the front of the unit.
Other integrated functions include an automatic needle threader, a conveniently located top drop-in bobbin system and a built-in bobbin winder. It also has the ability to adjust stitch length and presser foot pressure.
There is also a free arm for sewing for sewing cuffs, collars and sleeves and an accessory package consisting of 3 packs of needles, bobbins, seam ripper, spool cap, dust cover, a screwdriver and additional feet; zigzag, zipper, buttonhole, overcasting, and blind hem foot. An instruction book and Quick Guide advisor are also provided for guidance on navigation and usage of this machine.
Although it is a heavy duty sewing machine, it is also one of the lightest models with a weight of 10.8 pounds which makes it easy to move and store. However, some buyers found it too light and had to stabilize it by placing a rubber shelf lining underneath it. Others found the sewing speed relatively low.
What we liked:
Multiple stitch options
Gliding foot sews multiple layers of denim and canvas
Automatic needle threader
Adjustable stitch length and presser foot pressure
This is the best Singer heavy duty sewing machine for home use due to its low pricing, powerful motor, versatile features, high speed and multiple stitches.
It comes with a whopping 32 built-in stitches which include 6 basic, 7 stretch, 18 decorative stitches, and 1 fully automatic 1-step buttonhole stitch. You can also reinforce stitches with the automatic reverse function.
The motor is 60% stronger than standard models to easily sew through several layers of leather or canvas at a speed of 1100 stitches per minute. This makes it one of the best heavy duty sewing machines for leather.
The top drop-in bobbin system features a transparent cover which allows you to keep an eye on thread supply. The convenient placement also makes it easy to load the bobbin easily and the automatic needle threader minimizes eye strain.
SINGER 4452 features a durable heavy duty metal frame which can withstand sewing of heavy fabric without wobbling. Once you purchase it, you will also get needles, bobbins, spool pin, dust cover, seam ripper, quilting guide, clearance plate, and four additional feet: all-purpose, buttonhole, zipper, and button sewing foot.
Stitch selection is done manually using a dial. This can be slightly confusing when you first start using it. You will also have to figure out on your own the right presser foot to use for your intended stitch since the information is not included in the guide.
You only need to look at how it combines advanced features with industrial level functionalities to see why this is the best heavy duty sewing machine for both home and commercial use.
Featuring only one type of stitch, the single-needle, straight stitch, may be considered a drawback, but this model makes up for that with a mind-blowing sewing speed of 5500 stitches per minute which makes it capable of bulk sewing a large collection of apparels ranging from light to medium weight fabric. You can sew stitches up to 5 mm in length.
The 110-voltage Servo motor is convenient for residential usage because it uses less power and runs more quietly than the regular industrial motor. It also comes with a variety of stitch speed options.
A knee-lifter lever found under the table is used to raise or lower the presser foot so your hands can be free for other sewing activities.
The unit comes fully-assembled with a motor, machine head, stand, table, sewing light, and a storage drawer for the accessories which include needles, bobbin, presser foot, screwdriver, oil pan, oil, and instruction manual.
It weighs 125 pounds and has self-lubricating mechanism which keeps the components working efficiently. Coupled with the durable construction, you can expect it to last for a long period.
What we liked:
Multiple speed options
Very high speed
Low power consumption
Comes fully assembled
What could be better:
Limited stitch options
Things to Consider
In this guide, we look at the different types of heavy duty sewing machines, their capabilities and the most important features to consider when shopping for one to get maximum value out of it. We also offer sewing tips for heavy fabric and identify the best heavy duty sewing machine models for different types of fabric in the FAQ segment.
Thick fabrics perfectly sewn – capabilities of a heavy-duty machine
Heavy duty sewing machines are heavier than regular machines for additional stability to accommodate the weight of the thick and heavy fabric when sewing. This prevents wobbling and skipping of stitches. Stability is also enhanced by durable construction material of brass and stainless steel as opposed to having several components made of plastic. The sturdy frames can withstand several hours of stitching for several years without breaking down.
The best heavy duty sewing machine also features a high speed and the ability to seamlessly sew multiple layers of fabric which speeds up sewing of the material of every type of thickness, from quilting and upholstery to delicate straps.
The included free arm and spacious table provide additional space for custom styling on cuffs, collars and hems as well as sleeves. They can be named best sewing machines for users with difficult projects in mind.
Types of heavy duty sewing machines
There are three main types of heavy duty sewing machines: standard, serger, and embroidery.
The standard type is the most common type because of its versatile stitching options, with some models offering up to 600 different stitches.
The serger uses a combination of stitches for overlock stitching to secure seams and hems with a finished look that does not fray at the edges. It works well with knitted and stretchy fabric but lacks stitching functions like buttonhole.
An embroidery heavy duty sewing machine allows you to create endless unique patterns and designs for a customized look. It is also pricier than other models but it will provide you with as many options as your imagination can create.
Tips on working with thick fabrics
Get the size of needle that can sew thick fabric, like size 90 for denim, and heavy duty thread that will not break. Alternatively, you can use a double thread.
When using the fly wheel, always pull it towards you.
Heavy duty sewing machine features that will help you with thick fabric include an adjustable presser foot that can accommodate thick fabric, adjustable stitch length and width, and special feet like a walking foot which allows simultaneous movement of fabric layers and a roller foot which helps the feed dogs to advance the fabric.
You can grade seams or use flat fell seam to make the seams less bulky as the fabric is already thick. You can also reduce the weight by opening up darts and using soft linings, bias binding or zigzag stitches.
For a neater look, press the fabric with a steam iron or presser cloth.
Features to consider while buying the best heavy duty sewing machine
These are the key features that should guide you in identifying the right heavy duty sewing machine for your needs.
Mechanical or electronic?
Sewing machines are grouped as mechanical, electrical, computerized, serger or embroidery.
Beginners find mechanical sewing machines easier to operate because of the minimalistic features which can be navigated with dials. On the other hand, electronic and computerized machines have plenty of advanced features which are motorized or automated. This is convenient when you have a heavy workload or when you want to experiment with different functions. Sergers secure the seams through overlock stitches and embroidery models are ideal for unique patterns and designs.
A heavy duty sewing machine with high speed, such as JUKI DDL-8700 which has a speed of 5500 stitches per minute, can handle a large workload more efficiently. The speed should be adjustable to suit different types of fabric and your own pace. This gives you more control and prevents skipping of stitches.
One way to gauge the capacity of your potential machine is through the number of built-in stitches. Multiple options offer more versatility for different types of stitching, including embroidery, buttonhole, and reverse stitching.
Threading is one of the constant issues that users struggle with when it comes to sewing machines. Some models like TOYOTA Super Jeans J17XL and Brother PQ1500SL have automatic needle threaders which solves this problem.
If your intended model lacks this feature, you can read online reviewers for further guidance in addition to referencing the manual. Check out for an automatic thread cutter, too, for more convenience.
This helps to move the fabric as you sew to prevent it from bunching up or skipping stitches. Heavy fabrics require an adjustable feed dog that can leave enough space to accommodate and ease the fabric along.
A bobbin should be easily accessible and conveniently located to enable quick change of bobbins. It should have a see-through case which allows you to keep an eye on the thread supply.
Heavy duty sewing machines are generally heavier than other models for additional stability when working with heavy fabric. The weight of the fabric and its movement on the machine can make a lightweight machine wobble. Despite this, you can still get a good heavy duty model which is light in weight. For example, TOYOTA Super Jeans J17XL weighs 10.8 pounds whereas JUKI DDL-8700 weighs 125 pounds with table and requires special setting up.
Majority of heavy duty sewing machines feature more brass and stainless than plastic components to withstand pressure from the heavy fabric and its maneuvering during sewing. The sturdy construction improves their lifespan.
User reviews can offer valuable insight on the terms of warranty, seller’s reputation and expected customer care. Check them out before making your purchase and study the scope and coverage of the warranty. Different parts of the machine will likely have different lengths of warranty, with electrical components having a shorter period of coverage than the frame.
Heavy duty sewing machines can stitch a wider range of fabric than their regular counterparts. This capability comes with more advanced features such as higher speed and adjustable settings which drive up the cost. That is why these models are more expensive than standard sewing machines.
Beginners can still find a decent entry-level heavy duty model for less than $500 to learn and improve their sewing skills.
TOYOTA Super Jeans J17XL is the best sewing machine for jeans. It has a gliding foot which can seamlessly sew up to 12 layers of denim without skipping a stitch and a free arm for sewing cuffs and collars.
Cover your machine when not in use to prevent dust, dirt and dander. Change your needle to match the type and weight of fabric and prevent damaged needles which can damage your fabric and machine. Clean the machine with muslin and lint brush after every major project to prevent accumulation of lint around the throat plate and feed dog. Oil the moving parts to lubricate them and prevent rust.
Janome HD3000 is well-equipped to sew multiple layers of heavy fabric with a powerful motor, sturdy build, numerous built-in stitches and a well-illustrated visual diagram which guides you through the process of stitch selection. A well-illuminated workplace and time-saving features like needle threader, thread cutter and automatic bobbin winding will turn your sewing chores into an enjoyable hobby.
Brother PQ1500SL is outstanding for its quilting capabilities and corresponding features such as a large table for spacious working area with LED lighting for improved visibility, a high speed of 1500 stitches per minute, adjustable feed dog settings that can fit the thick fabric, and seven presser feet which can be operated by a knee-lifter so your hands can freely work on quilting.
Singer Professional 14T968DC Serger is the best heavy duty sewing machine for the neatest and most durable seams. It features the rare cover stitch function as well as 2-3-4-5 thread capability for a large variety of stitching options. The versatile model has a self-adjusting tension system and trims fabric as it sews for greater efficiency.
Hope out buying guide has helped you choose your perfect heavy duty sewing machine, and if you are in need of a compact easier device for lighter fabrics – consider choosing the best mini sewing machine from our reviews.