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: February 10, 2021
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If you want to do some heavy duty sewing, you’ll need a heavy duty machine. When it comes to upholstery projects like restoring or refreshing old pieces of furniture, or adjusting a set of curtains, you’ll quickly find that a standard sewing machine isn’t up to the job. This is why you need the best upholstery sewing machine. These machines are able to handle thicker fabrics than regular machines, giving you more versatility and performance for upholstery projects.
We’ve put together a list of the best upholstery sewing machines, like the JUKI DDL-8700-Servo Industrial Straight Stitch Sewing Machine. In order to identify the top models, we considered many different factors including the machine’s speed, the number of built-in stitches it has to offer, the warranty provided to protect your purchase, the machine’s size, its weight, and more. We also tried to choose machines of different prices, in order to find an option to suit every kind of budget.
Below, you’ll find a comparison table showing off our findings. The table lists all of the best upholstery sewing machines we found, rated and nominated with their best features or aspects. Further down the page, you can read detailed reviews of each machine, complete with lists of their pros and cons, as well as specifications of each model. Finally, you can read through our upholstery sewing machine buying guide, which will answer any questions you might have about buying one of these machines.
Starting off our list is the JUKI DDL-8700-Servo Industrial Straight Stitch Sewing Machine. If you want the best sewing machine for upholstery, this might be the one for you. It’s one of the most heavy duty, high performing upholstery sewing machines out there, offering professional grade quality right in the comfort of your own home. This is the best industrial sewing machine for upholstery, offering extraordinary sewing speeds of up to 5,500 SPM.
The JUKI DDL-8700-Servo Industrial Straight Stitch Sewing Machine also offers a maximum stitch length of 5mm, letting you adjust stitch size as you like to suit your needs. Made by an industry leading brand, it can handle any light or medium weight fabric around, but it isn’t the best option for leather or very thick materials.
This machine doesn’t come with lots of different stitch types or options. It’s built with functionality in mind, simply sewing straight and letting you take on your various projects without wasting time on lots of options and settings. It’s one of the toughest and most durable machines around, but the JUKI DDL-8700-Servo Industrial Straight Stitch Sewing Machine is also one of the largest and heaviest too, weighing in at more than 100 pounds.
A terrific option for materials like vinyl and more, as well as ranking among the best auto upholstery sewing machine models on the market today, the Janome HD3000 stands out for its strong performance in almost every aspect. It comes with 18 different stitch types and lots of useful features like a built-in needle threader, an extra high presser foot, a push-pull bobbin winder, and free arm.
Many users have fallen in love with this machine due to all the fun features it has. It even has a foot storage compartment in the top of the machine and a visual sewing guide you can use for reference to help you use the right foot. It runs quite smoothly and relatively quietly too, even if it’s not the fastest machine out there, so it’s a good option for people who don’t need to sew too speedily. The Janome HD3000 also comes with a carry case for your convenience.
This upholstery sewing machine is relatively lightweight and compact, quite easy to pick up and carry around, and it doesn’t take up too much space on your sewing table either. It’s a good option for people who don’t have too much room to work with, and the presence of a free arm helps to add even more value and appeal to this machine, even if its price tag is a little on the steep side.
We’re back with JUKI, one of the best brands in the business, for the Juki TL-2010Q. If you’re looking for a real heavy duty upholstery sewing machine that can handle thick materials and multiple layers all at once, look no further than this one. The Juki TL-2010Q may be the best sewing machine for car upholstery and can tackle materials like leather with astonishing ease. It’s also one of the most expensive sewing machines on our list, but it does enough to justify that price with its powerful performance.
Fast and strong, the Juki TL-2010Q is the sort of machine you can rely on for years. It’s got a strong build and frame too, meaning that it can take knocks and hits without suffering any damage, and it can work flawlessly for years and years. The strong build quality also means that the Juki TL-2010Q is quite a heavy machine, and can be difficult to carry around for those who aren’t used to moving heavy objects, so this is an inconvenience for prospective owners to consider.
The Juki TL-2010Q comes with a built-in LED light, which is a great bonus to help you out with those more precise projects where you really want to see exactly what you’re doing at all times. It’s an effective option for quilting, tailoring, home decor, and more, coming with an automatic thread trimmer and spacious sewing bed too.
Coming from one of the most famous names in the sewing world, the Singer Heavy Duty 4452 is our Budget Pick for this list. It’s one of the most affordable upholstery sewing machines out there, offering amazing features and functionality at a price that is also highly attractive. It comes with 32 different stitch types, a super-strong motor, a stainless steel bedplate, and more.
The Singer Heavy Duty 4452 features 18 decorative stitches for sewers who like to get fancy with their sewing projects and try out many different options, and it also comes with fully automatic buttonholes and other options for everything from curtain-making to clothes repairs, home decor, and crafting. It can sew at speeds of up to 1,100 stitches per minute, so it’s not the fastest, but it comes with a range of useful accessories like a walking foot, non-stick foot for leather and vinyl, lint brush, quilting guide, needles, bobbins, buttonhole foot, zipper foot, and more.
The Singer Heavy Duty 4452 is one of the best-selling upholstery sewing machines out there, and it’s easy to see why. With countless 5-star reviews from owners, it’s clear that this machine has a lot to offer. It’s lightweight, compact, portable, affordable, and it even comes with an excellent warranty, as well as a tough frame. The only real flaw we could find is that some users found it a little tricky at first, so you might need some time to get used to it.
A top quality longarm quilting machine and one of the best sewing machines for automotive upholstery too, the JUKI TL-2000Qi is another winner from one of the best brands in the business. The first thing to note about this machine is its extendable table and huge sewing workspace, really giving you a lot of room to maneuver around. The extension table is so useful, especially for those people who take on big projects like quilting and furniture upholstery.
Highly rated by customers, the JUKI TL-2000Qi comes at a high price, but more than justifies its price tag with its features and functionality. It features an aluminium die-cast arm, an automatic needle threader, and low vibration operation, meaning that it stays relatively quiet while in use. It’s one of the bigger and bulkier machines out there, especially with the extension table pulled out, and it sadly doesn’t offer the strongest warranty options.
However, if we put these small flaws aside, there’s a lot to love about the JUKI TL-2000Qi. It features a built-in LED light to illuminate your sewing space from all angles, letting you see exactly what you’re doing at all times, and it offers super simple one pedal operation too. In short, it’s a highly approachable and easy to understand upholstery sewing machine, great for beginners.
Next, we come to the Brother Quilting and Sewing Machine PQ1500SL. Strong and durable, this machine is great for quilting and ideal for all kinds of upholstery projects around the home. It can definitely rank among the best sewing machine for upholstery fabric models available today, featuring a large sewing area and a great range of features to assist you throughout your daily sewing projects.
Some of the extra features of the Brother Quilting and Sewing Machine PQ1500SL include an automatic thread trimmer, a knee lifter, four feed dog settings, and a built-in needle threader, and all of these little options can be useful over time, adding to the appeal of this Brother machine. It comes with an impressive 25 year limited warranty too, which gives you a lot of peace of mind and protection, just in case your machine ever develops any kind of fault or failure.
The Brother Quilting and Sewing Machine PQ1500SL also offers impressive sewing speeds of up to 1,500 stitches per minute, letting you race through your sewing projects faster than ever, and the built-in Brother exclusive pin-feed mechanism really helps provide precision. It comes with an LED light, as well, and allows you to adjust your stitches to up to 7mm in length. Overall, this is a very impressive upholstery sewing machine.
If you’re looking for the best sewing machine for upholstery work and don’t want to spend too much money, you might want to opt for the Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine. Coming from one of the most trusted and renowned brands in the sewing world, this heavy duty machine is very strong and durable, ready to go the distance and last for years and years. It even won a Women’s Choice Award for its quality.
The Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine is quite compact and portable. It’s one of the most lightweight and convenient machines on our list, even coming with its own built-in handle to let you easily carry it around the home and store it away whenever you’re finished sewing. It features a metal needle plate to protect the threading mechanism too, and it’s made with a strong metal frame and body.
This upholstery sewing machine comes with a long warranty to protect your purchase for up to 25-years, and it comes bundled with some useful accessories to get you started. It’s one of the best upholstery machines for beginners or those who don’t have too much experience on upholstery projects. The Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine comes with dozens of stitch types too, and even though it’s a little slower than others and can struggle with the thickest of materials, it offers amazing value for money.
Last but not least, we come to the SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960. This is the only computerized upholstery sewing machine on our list. In general, when it comes to upholstery projects, many people tend to prefer a mechanical machine, but computerized alternatives offer a lot of advantages. The SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960, for example, features a digital backlit LCD screen where you can change the stitch types and settings on the fly.
Speaking of stitch types, the SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960 comes with no less than 600 different options. This machine has far more stitch types than almost any other upholstery machine on the market, so if you love to try out different stitches and plan on using the machine for regular sewing as well as upholstery projects, you’ll get a lot out of it. It’s a strong and durable machine too, made from high-quality materials and nicely designed to last for years.
Overall, we can recommend this machine to those who don’t plan on pushing it too far. It’s a budget model, lacking in some features and not quite having the motor strength to tackle leather, vinyl, and other materials. It’s one of the slower options too, but its strong build, affordable price tag, super long warranty, and computerized technology give it a strong edge over a lot of the competition and make it perfect for all kinds of sewing.
What we liked:
Lightweight and portable
Strong, durable frame
Affordable price and great value
Lots of different stitch types
Long warranty period for peace of mind
What could be better:
Relatively slow sewing speed
Budget model lacks some features
Better for regular sewing
Things to Consider
Now that we’ve seen some of the best upholstery sewing machines you can buy today, let’s take a closer look at what you need to know before actually ordering one. There are lots of different features and factors that need to be considered when buying this kind of heavy duty sewing machine, and the more you know, the easier it will be to choose the right one.
What makes an upholstery sewing machine different
When compared to a standard sewing machine, an upholstery sewing machine has some key differences, including:
Heavy Duty – Put simply, upholstery sewing machines are stronger and more high-performing than their standard counterparts. These machines are designed for thick, heavy materials, including the likes of leather and vinyl. Standard sewing machines can’t usually sew through these kinds of materials, but a heavy duty upholstery sewing machine will be able to.
Faster – Another area in which an upholstery sewing machine is stronger than a standard model is in terms of speed. When put side by side, we can see that an upholstery sewing machine is able to sew much faster. This allows you to complete projects more quickly and tackle bigger projects too.
More Versatile – Due to their faster speeds and stronger capacities, upholstery sewing machines tend to be more versatile overall than standard models. They can sew more materials, allowing the user to try out lots of different projects. With an upholstery sewing machine, you have far fewer limitations.
Features to consider when choosing a sewing machine for upholstery
There are many different features and factors that need to be considered when choosing to invest in an upholstery sewing machine. The type of machine you choose, the number of stitches it has, the machine’s size and weight, its features and functionality, and its overall sewing speed are just some of these factors.
It’s important to consider each one and work out how much it matters to you, in order to buy a machine, you can be satisfied with. It’s also worth remembering that whichever machine you get, you’ll need to get the settings, needle, thread, and tension all just right to tackle your upholstery projects properly, without any issues. These machines aren’t quite as simple to use as standard sewing machines, so you need to be ready to learn the ropes if you haven’t used one before.
Features to consider when choosing a sewing machine for upholstery
There are many different features and factors that need to be considered when choosing to invest in an upholstery sewing machine. The type of machine you choose, the number of stitches it has, the machine’s size and weight, its features and functionality, and its overall sewing speed are just some of these factors. It’s important to consider each one and work out how much it matters to you, in order to buy a machine, you can be satisfied with. It’s also worth remembering that whichever machine you get, you’ll need to get the settings, needle, thread, and tension all just right to tackle your upholstery projects properly, without any issues. These machines aren’t quite as simple to use as standard sewing machines, so you need to be ready to learn the ropes if you haven’t used one before.
Number of built-in stitches
If you love versatility in your upholstery sewing machine, you’ll want to buy a model with lots of built-in stitches. Some machines only come with a few stitch types, while others can ship with hundreds of different stitches. The Singer Quantum Stylist 9960, for example, has an impressive total of 600 different stitch types.
The more stitch types you have, the more options you have when it comes to how you sew materials and how you tackle different projects
. For some, this factor won’t be too important, but for those who enjoy trying out different stitch styles and making their sewing as decorative as possible, it can be a great option.
Stitch length and width
As well as offering different stitch types, some upholstery sewing machines will also allow you to adjust the length and width of your stitches. Some machines don’t have this feature, which reduces their overall flexibility. Being able to adjust the length and width of individual stitches simply gives you an extra option to think about when taking on new sewing projects. There are times when having a shorter, thinner, or longer stitch can be helpful, so choosing a machine that offers this feature, like the Juki TL-2010Q can be beneficial.
For the uninitiated, a free arm sewing machine is a machine with an extendable section beneath the needle. The free arm lets you maneuver fabrics around and beneath the needle more accurately and easily. Essentially, it helps to make sewing simpler and assists you in getting the results you need. You don’t always need a free arm, for example when sewing with long, straight pieces of fabric, but if you are working with different shapes and need to move materials around at different angles, having the free arm is a nice bonus. Most people prefer sewing machines with free arms, like the Janome HD3000, particularly for upholstery projects.
Build, frame, and stability
The overall build and frame of your upholstery sewing machine can also influence your decision when choosing which model to buy. A sewing machine is something you’ll want to use for several years, so you need it to have a strong and stable build. As these machines are often used for big, heavy duty projects, stability is very important.
Dimensions and weight
Sewing machines tend to be quite big and heavy. Moving them around isn’t always easy, so the size and weight of your model are important factors to think about, for many different reasons. For starters, if you have to keep putting the machine away, getting it back out, and moving it around, you don’t necessarily want a machine that is too heavy and could put strain on your body or be difficult to carry. A small machine, like the Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine, can be a great choice in these situations. You also need to ensure that the machine is compact enough to fit away in a closet or space of your choosing.
Extra features and accessories included with the machine
Some upholstery sewing machines will come with extra features, like an LED light to illuminate the sewing area, as seen on the JUKI TL-2000Qi, or a set of needles and accessories included with your purchase to give you more value and flexibility. These little bonuses won’t have a drastic effect on your sewing projects, but they can help one machine stand out from the others. The LED light is particularly important, and bright lights are essential when you want to sew accurately.
There’s no one right answer to this. Firstly, you need to ensure that you buy and use feet that are designed specifically for your chosen machine, if you want to get the best results. Each model is different, and different feet will work better depending on the model you choose. In general, for upholstery projects, you’ll need a cording foot or zipper foot, which helps with cording or welting, and a walking foot, which is helpful for those moments when you’re working with multiple layers.
Quite simply, a regular sewing machine is designed for thinner, simpler materials. They don’t have the motor strength, speed, or power to handle thicker fabrics or multi-layer materials. Upholstery sewing machines have the power and performance you need to sew through things like leather without any issues, whereas a regular sewing machine would struggle to pierce this kind of material and could simply break down.
This all depends on the machine you buy, the needles you use, and what kind of fabrics you’re working with. Stronger machines with high power motors will be able to tackle thicker fabrics and multiple layers all at once, while others may struggle. Needles can sometimes break when attempting to sew through lots of layers all at once, so you really need to be sure that your machine can handle this kind of sewing before attempting it.
Overall, our top rated upholstery sewing machine is the JUKI DDL-8700-Servo Industrial Straight Stitch Sewing Machine. Super strong and durable, this machine can last a lifetime and provides the kind of standards you’d expect to find from an industrial grade device. If peak performance is what you want, choose the JUKI.
The next best upholstery sewing machine is the Janome HD3000. Small and compact, this machine is lightweight and highly portable, while still offering powerful performance under the hood, ready and able to take on any project you have in mind.
Our third favorite upholstery sewing machine is the Juki TL-2010Q. Fast and powerful, with lots of useful features and the ability to sew through almost any material you place beneath its needle, this is the ultimate upholstery sewing machine for tough projects and thick fabrics.