In my pursuit of the perfect sewing machine for handling heavy fabrics, I’ve checked a plethora of customer reviews on Amazon to compile a comprehensive guide. To select the best sewing machine for heavy fabrics, I’ll share my findings on top-rated products.
Please be advised that the prices and ratings provided are accurate as of the time of writing.
Top-rated: 20,543 ratings
Informative Review: “There are a lot of reviews here of people frustrated with the Singer 4423. I was going to purchase this machine back in November, as I needed a machine to handle automotive upholstery and other heavy fabrics. I hesitated on buying because of less then stellar reviews. An Amazon lightening deal changed my mind, as the price was under $100.
I received my item well packaged and expediently (thanks Amazon). The directions that come with it are not great, but get the basics covered. I utilized the internet for more detailed instruction, and well as for video guidance.
After using the sewing machine for several hours, I too became frustrated. So much so, that I initiated a return. It seems I could not get the thread tension correct, and I would end up with tons of bobbin jams. Nobody wants their bobbin in a jam.
After sleeping on it (not literally), I researched more on the internet. I found a few tips that not only helped, my project turned out great and I was able to use the 4423 effectively.
- Use the felt bobbin spacer if the bobbin is racking in the bobbin case.
- Important. Use only the plastic – not metal – bobbins.
- Make sure you thread correctly. Thread tension is critical and is managed at loops #3, #4, and #5. When threading, be sure to give a slight tug to ensure the thread has seated into the blind tensioner. Also don’t forget to run the thread behind the guide #6.
- This might seem obvious, but be sure to drop the presser foot. It’s easy to forget especially when setting up thicker fabrics/upholstery. If you forget, you’ll know soon enough, by having a mess under the fabric on the bobbin side.
- Practice with the foot control. It launches from 0 to 60 in a split second. I’d like to find a way of better control here, as fine control is challenging.
- Use the correct needle size. Mine shipped with a 90/14 which is good for many things, but I recommend a 100 for thicker stuff, like chihuahuas and small pets. Just kidding about that small pet crack.
I gave this machine 5 stars solely because for the money (<$100), it was a no-brainer. I’d give it 4 stars if priced in the usual $125- $150 range. It’s not perfect, as the foot control is too sensitive (like my wife). But it is a well made piece of equipment that CAN handle heavy fabrics. It went through 6 layers of vinyl upholstery as well as plastic piping, without struggle. I did find that best results were obtained when the needle is started manually in the thicker, multi-layered fabrics.
Stitch patterns seemed to work okay, but I only did some messing around with them, just to see if they worked. I really only used the straight, and zig-zag with frequency.
One other thing, the machine is light, which is good and bad. Good, as it’s easy to transport, but bad as it will move when pushing heavy stock through it. Use a rubber mat, or better yet an appropriate table.”John K.
Another Helpful Review: “
This isn’t a fancy, computer-controlled embroidery machine. This is a simple, useful, strong machine for sewing. I hadn’t used a sewing machine in probably 30 years… but I wanted to be able to fix some ‘stuff’ around the house and make masks for my family. There are many YouTube videos out there that give AWESOME advice about using this machine, WATCH THEM FIRST, one-by-one, and they teach you everything you need to know.
It did take me several tries to learn how to thread the machine, and especially how to get the bobbin thread up. Watch videos, keep trying, you will get it. I still haven’t mastered the self-threading needle feature? I’m not doing something right.. but I just put the thread through the needle eye the old-fashioned way and it works fine. I may take it somewhere and have someone teach me but that’s pretty low on my list right now.
I fixed torn hems in several skirts, sewed up the torn pockets on the heavy canvas fabric of the patio umbrella, and have made masks galore. I made a handbag, a bag for uniform hat & shoes, this machine has done it all. I did buy some heavy duty needles for the canvas, and lengthened the stitch to accommodate the heavy thick layers, and it handled it no problem. I am very, very happy with this purchase.
I did buy the white plastic Singer brand carrying case to go with it, is easier than getting it in & out of the original box and I don’t have a sewing room or dedicated place to leave it out. So the carrying case is a useful accessory.”A. Smith
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Top-rated: 2,412 ratings
Informative Review: “I was unsure if I should go with Brother or Singer. Both are priced similarly. Singer 4452 HD sounds like a solid machine but decided to go with Brother because, I have had good luck with my old Brother sewing machine.
Okay, I admit, you must learn to use the correct needle with the type of fabric and thickness of material to be sewn. My older machine was not as finicky as the ST 371HD. I have sewn over 350 masks and I use the 3D design with 3 layers, 2 cotton and 1 polyester interface.
I fold the ends over twice so the stitch has to go through 3x the layers. I had no problems until I switched to “GEMSY” needles. That is when my nightmare started and I called Brother and spoke with a really nice rep. (Emily). She was very helpful with troubleshooting. My machine starting knocking and skipping stitches.
Sometimes, it would loop up under fabric and was difficult to cut loose. My problems were very inconsistent after using GEMSY needles. Especially, the larger needles. On my last call to Emily at Brothers, I noticed the difference in the needle shape and sharpness.
I attached a picture of the needles. The Organ Needles in 100/16 (for thicker materials) was so much sharper and slim line at the point. Both needles in the photo are brand new and I hope others can see the difference. I had to take the photo under magnification to illustrate the difference.
So, before “bad mouthing” Brother machines, I think everyone should take a close look at the “Needles” used. I also noticed the eye of the needles are totally different. I also learn to buy quality thread like Gutermann brand. So, I give the Brother ST371HD a 5 star rating as it is a beast when using quality needles, quality thread and right combination for material to be sewn.
Trust me, I have tried them all and Organ, Schmetz, and Singer Titanium are all quality needles. If you are having issues with heavy needles for GEMSY, it is probably the needle and not the machine. I hope this helps others to troubleshoot their own problems. I would love to hear what type of needles others recommend for heavy fabrics.”dogbait
Another Helpful Review: “My sewing machine broke in the middle of a project. I spent only one day researching reviews and product descriptions for a replacement. I selected this one.
There were a lot of reviews for it, but none mentioned that it could applique. I don’t mean embroider. This is not an embroider machine. I use Pelon heat bond with a zigzag stitch. That type of applique is something that I do a lot of: quilts (the top designs not the actual quilting of the finished quilt top), costumes, pillows, etc.
I was worried that it wouldn’t let me applique smoothly. Well, it does applique smoothly. The stitches are beautiful and are not puckered. The control buttons seem a little confusing to me. I’m still not used to which one controls thickness, etc.
I have to stop and look it up, and do some testing. Yes, I’m still getting used to this new machine. Don’t be afraid that because it is not computerized and it’s specialty is for sewing heavy fabric, that it can’t do applique or sew small paper pieced quilt fabric together. I will try to drop the feed dog and do quilting at some point. So far, the machine is working great. I’m happy with my purchase.”Hattie Wilson
One More Review: “I’ve managed to center the needle and am now very satisfied with the machine – it appeared to default to the right position, making certain presser feet unusable. The instructions on how to fix this may be in the manual, but I was unable to find it.
I do recommend this machine for heavy work; it’s been a champ sewing through 4 layers of upholstery fabric. If you find yourself in the same fix I was in, select #2 stitch and then set your zig zag width to about 3. The machine will neither zig nor zag with that stitch setting. This may be common now, but I hadn’t sewn in years and it’s the first time I’ve encountered it.”LindsayGee
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Top-rated: 7,702 ratings
Informative Review: “
Think this works for professionals as well.. it is not heavy duty but I think it works pretty good. My mom is a professional seamstress for over 40 years. We have always had one of those commercial seeing machine at home. It’s been there for also 40 years.
This is a great alternative for my mom since this can be moved around unlike the other one that’s always in the garage. She likes to sew shirts and pajamas year around for the adults as well as the kids. I don’t think I have ever bought a pajamas for the family yet….”
Another Helpful Review: “It doesn’t say it’s heavy duty but it is. I’ve hemmed my jeans, it’s so hard to find a jean skirt that’s the right length for me. I bought a large sized skirt and opened the sides and removed extra material and sewed it back up. I love it! I feel like sewing everything!! my curtains that are too long my pjs that are too big my pillow lol!!!”
One More Review: “I really like this product because I’m a senior and at times some things are to heavy for me to lift. But this product is very lightweight. I recommend this product to everyone that likes to sew like myself.”Victoria Watson
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Top-rated: 8,959 ratings
Informative Review: “This is my second Singer heavy-duty machine. I bought the first one ten years ago and used it nearly everyday (I sew like a sweat factory) until the feed dogs gave out after ten years of intense sewing – a dozen full-size quilts, dozens of clothes, costumes, etc.
PROS: This machine is STRONG!
- It sews through several thick layers, without struggling. Just pull on the thread to get it started.
- It works well for top stitching jersey clothing I sew on my serger. My old Brother always skipped stitches on jersey. This Singer does NOT.
- It is a pretty basic machine, so pretty easy to use.
- The 4 step buttonhole process works well.
Kinda loud. I am confined to the upstairs guest room, because it is loud.
No fancy stitches.
The first heavy duty Singer I got was a ‘back-up’ machine when my fancy one was in the shop. As it turns out, I use this all the time.
It’s a great machine for basic sewing, ESPECIALLY on thick fabrics.”
Kate Reading and Sewing in South Carolina
Another Helpful Review: “It IS a heavy duty. Some reviews questioned why it is called heavy duty. If you read the information about it, it tells you of the metal construction inside….not plastic! After sewing for 50 years and having the top of the line Quantum XL, I was hesitant to replace it but it finally had issues that could not be repaired.
I needed something that could handle heavy upholstery, leather and sling chair fabric as well as light fabric (clothing repairs) this one fits the bill.
I love how Singer has been consistent with threading and bobbin rewinding, so being familiar, I was able to unpackage it and begin sewing within minutes!”Mabear1954
One More Review: “I purchased this as my singer tradition was going out of alignment. I make stuffed toys as a hobby. There can be many layers of fabric that the machine needs to go through. The previous machine was in capable of advancing the fabric. And when things got too thick, it would go out of alignment and brake a needle.
This machine surpasses all my expectations. You can tell it is heavy duty. It sounds solid. It very positively advances the material. I will have no problem with this machine.
Well worth the extra hundred bucks to move to this machine. You get what you pay for. @jackcheese #jackcheesemouse“marko
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Top-rated: 4,863 ratings
Informative Review: “I bought this for my little cousin to teach her how to sew. In order to familiarize myself with this machine, I made a simple wash dress with it. It’s very VERY basic, which is good. I’m used to using 40-50-60 year old heavy duty machines, so it lacked some features I’m used to (I.e. seam allowance.
Though, you could mark it out yourself if need be.)
Works just fine for simple things and I would recommend if you don’t do a lot of sewing, just mending etc or are just learning. If you plan to do more than that, then I’d recommend a step up from this.”Hayley Michaela
Another Helpful Review: “Purchased this for my wife as a replacement of an old and very heavy Singer. She quit using it for small or minor mending as it was difficult to get out of the case and set up. Found this little gem, lite weight, compact, easy to use and does everything she would use it for. Price was great! Lot’s to choose from in this price category but it’s a Singer!, and works well for what we use it for”
One More Review: “I love this little workhorse. It’s perfect for my crafting needs. I own a Heavy Duty Singer for more heavy duty mending jobs. This is a great machine, easy to use, clear instructions. Singer quality!“Jerry
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Top-rated: 339 ratings
Informative Review: “After MANY hours of research on various brands I chose this one and couldn’t be happier. I loved Babylock for as long as I can remember, but they are so expensive for what I really need. I do have an Emore embroidery machine that I rarely use.
Five years ago I bought my first Brother machine, a little SE-350 and the 1034D serger. Soon after, I needed a really heavy duty machine and bought the PQ1500S along with a CV2340. I use the PQ1500S most as it is a powerhorse and I wish I had bought it long ago, but now I need a machine that can do a great blindstitch hem, fast stretch stitch, great buttonholes and other options. I have absolutely two requirements in a machine, an automatic thread cutter and needle down option. This Juki met all my desires.
It is easy to set up and the manual is very large and easy to understand. The DVD is fair, as the voice is a bit strange, but easy to understand. I wish it had a few more presser feet, but I plan to purchase more soon.The Juki Exceed is quiet while stitching, but the thread cutter is a bit noisy, but works very well by pushing a button or pressing the back of the foot control.
I ordered the machine on Saturday after 5pm and received it on Monday early afternoon!! This was without “prime” or two day shipping either. The box is very strong, not like the machine boxes you get off the self at a store.
The machine comes with a great solid cover that stores the manual and foot control. Speaking of foot control, I love, love it!! Very large and has 4 rubber pads so it doesn’t scoot all over the place.”elinwilton
Another Helpful Review: “This’s home is amazing! It has more features than I could have thought possible! For the money I don’t think you could get mich better! I love the auto back stitch with the auto cutter!
The auto threaded is in beatable! It is missing a second thread holder so I’m not sure how to use a double needle with this machine but I haven’t ever used one before so it’s not like I’m missing it:) The only thing for me is it didn’t feel quit as heavy duty as I need. There was kind of a clunking sound when I went through thick layers.
The stitches still came out nice and it still pushed thought the fabric but it sounded like it was struggling a little. I am sad to say I’m returning this ONLY for a machine with a bigger motor. But I know I will miss this machine immensely!!!”Kirstin
One More Review: “This is a great all around machine. It doesn’t have millions of decorative stitches, but I don’t l care about that. Give me a sturdy and reliable machine with the stitches that I’ll use. This machine has all the stitches that a sewer truly needs and then some.
It stitches well and has good power. The foot pedal functionality is great as is the cover. It doesn’t come with a knee lift. I don’t understand why someone would complain about not getting a knee lift when it’s clear that it’s not included. A knee lift can be purchased separately, but if you have a knee lift from another machine, chances are that it will work with this machine.
I have found the threader to be reliable, but all needle threaders have limitations when it comes to needle and thread size. Reasonable expectations are required. The machine is heavy enough to instill confidence in its ability, but not so heavy to instill dread if you want to move it.
I’m not sure you can get any better than this for the price. I have two Juki sergers and I am as impressed by this machine as I am by my sergers.”Crescent Moon
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