Choosing the Right Industrial Sewing Machine

Sewing machines are mechanical or electromechanical devices used to join fabrics or furs using stitches. These stitches are created with a threaded needle that moves up and down in an alternating motion through the materials with one or more threads.

Although there are many different types of sewing machines, they all work in this same way.

Industrial sewing machines have specific characteristics that allow for:

  • High working speeds (e.g. 700 to 800 stitches per minute)
  • Continuous operation, 24 hours a day, thanks to their heavy-duty construction and high level of performance
  • Superior stitch quality in terms of finish, precision, and consistency

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  • Do you need an industrial sewing machine?

    Nowadays, you can find some excellent home sewing machines that can rival certain industrial machines. So when should you opt for an industrial sewing machine? What advantages do industrial sewing machines provide?

    Here are some of the main ways in which industrial sewing machines differ from domestic sewing machines.


    Industrial sewing machines are designed to operate 24 hours a day, unlike domestic ones. They are therefore made for industrial applications (professional textile companies). These machines are more durable, but also more expensive.


    Industrial sewing machines are much heavier (up to 50 kilos) and bulkier than domestic sewing machines. While domestic models have a motor integrated into the body of the machine, the motor of an industrial machine is located outside the body, which means it must be mounted on a table. As a result, these machines require a larger working space and cannot be easily transported, unlike domestic sewing machines.

    Production speed

    The motor on an industrial sewing machine is more powerful than that of a domestic sewing machine and is therefore capable of higher sewing speeds. However, if you need to sew at slower speeds like you can do with a domestic sewing machine, you’ll need to choose a model with a servomotor.

    Heavy duty motor

    The motors used in industrial sewing machines are more robust and resistant, making them suitable for intensive use. Industrial sewing machines can start and stop sewing instantly.

    One stitch option

    Industrial sewing machines are specialized machines designed to perform one type of stitch on a specific fabric at high speeds and in large quantities. Domestic sewing machines, on the other hand, are multi-purpose and capable of sewing multiple types of stitches on several different types of fabrics, from lightweight fabrics such as lace to heavyweight fabrics like leather. However, they are more complex to operate than industrial machines, as more settings need to be configured.


    Industrial sewing machines produce much higher sewing quality, with perfectly executed stitches that are impossible to reproduce on domestic machines. They can also sew through sturdier materials and multiple layers of fabric with excellent results.


    Industrial sewing machines are equipped with automatic functions, such as automatic thread trimming.

    Advantages of an industrial sewing machine:

    • Durability
    • Production speed
    • Heavy duty motor
    • Ease of use
    • Sewing quality
    • Automation
  • What are the main criteria to consider when choosing an industrial sewing machine?

    The main criteria to consider are:

    Production speed

    Industrial sewing machines have speeds ranging from 3,000 to 7,000 revolutions per minute (rpm). The speed you need depends on the type of work you wish to do and the fabric you will be using. For intensive, large-scale use, opt for a high-speed sewing machine capable of making up to 1,500 stitches per minute, for example.

    As for the type of fabric, to sew lighter fabrics, choose a machine with a speed of around 5,000 rpm. For heavier fabrics that are harder to work with such as leather, choose a machine with around 3,000 to 4,000 rpm.

    Type of fabric

    The type of fabric you want to sew has a great influence on your choice of sewing machine as it determines the type of feed mechanism you need.

    Feed mechanism (motor)

    The feed mechanism is what advances the fabric across the machine each time the needle rises. The type of feed mechanism you should select depends on the type of material that will be sewn, as lightweight fabrics do not require the same force as heavyweight fabrics. There are three main types of mechanisms: drop feed, top feed, and triple feed. The type needed depends on the weight and type of fabric.

    For standard lightweight fabrics (with little or no stretch), or jeans, you should choose a machine with a drop feed, also known as a bottom feed. For heavyweight fabrics (e.g. protective canvas) and extremely fine, delicate fabrics (e.g. lace), opt for a top feed (also known as a needle feed) mechanism with a clutch motor. For very rigid fabrics like leather, only a sewing machine with a triple feed, also known as a unison feed, will work. But be aware that these machines can be quite costly as their mechanics are more complex.

    Stitch type

    Industrial sewing machines generally specialize in one type of stitch and only a rare few models can perform a wide variety of stitches.
    Among the most common stitches are the lockstitch, the zigzag stitch, and the overlock stitch (see the next section for more detailed information).
    You also need to consider the thickness of the thread you want to use to make your stitch and ensure that your machine is compatible with that thread thickness. Some machines can sew with thick threads, while others can only support thin threads.

    Energy consumption

    Sewing machines consume a lot of energy, especially those with clutch motors. However, there are more and more eco-friendly models available on the market. Some machines can also be fitted with a servomotor, which consumes less energy than a clutch motor and is quieter too.

    Main Selection Criteria:

    • Production speed
    • Type of fabric
    • Feed mechanism (motor)
    • Stitch type
    • Energy consumption
  • Which type of stitch should you choose for your sewing machine?

    There are many different types of stitches, but as previously mentioned, industrial sewing machines can usually only perform one type of stitch.

    The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) have each created a stitch classification system. These are ASTM D 6193 and ISO 4915:1991.

    Since there is a wide variety of stitches, in this guide we will concentrate on the five most commonly used.

    Types of stitches


    Often referred to as “straight stitch”, this is the most frequently used stitch in the industry. This is a single-needle stitch created by two threads that intertwine when the threaded needle pierces through the cloth and enters the bobbin area. To make this stitch, you need to use a flat bed seamer.

    Synthetic lifting slings
    Large tarpaulins and fabrics

    – It’s the quickest stitch to make.
    – It’s also the cheapest.

    – The stitches can be very tight, so this type of stitch is not suitable for stretch fabrics.

    Overlock stitch

    This stitch is produced by a sewing machine called a serger, which can sew at ultra-fast speeds.

    Stretchy clothing (sportswear, dancewear)

    – The overlock stitch is very flexible and strong.
    – Sergers sew faster than other sewing machines (7,000 rpm).

    – High thread consumption

    Chain stitch

    This stitch resembles a chain or rope. It produces particularly decorative effects and is often used for sewing accessories on fabrics.

    Paper and plastic bags
    Large tarpaulins and fabrics

    – It is larger than other stitch types, so it’s ideal for filling in patterns.

    – High thread consumption
    – Not as strong as other stitch types
    – Takes longer to sew

    Double chain stitch

    This type of stitch resembles the standard chain stitch, but it is stronger.


    – It is very strong and more durable than the standard chain stitch.
    – It has a high stretch capacity, which can be useful for sewing elastics.

    – High thread consumption
    – Takes longer to sew
    – Easily unravels if a thread is damaged, which often forces garment manufacturers to sew over existing stitches or use glue to reinforce seams.

    Zigzag stitch

    As its name suggests, the zigzag stitch has a sinuous, curved shape. Industrial sewing machines specializing in zigzag stitches allow you to adjust the stitch width and length.

    Stretch fabrics

    – This stitch tightens fabrics.
    – It makes sewing stretch fabrics easier.

    – The thread tension needs to be properly adjusted.
    – This stitch is not suitable for thin fabrics.

    Main Stitch Types:

    • Lockstitch
    • Overlock stitch
    • Chain stitch
    • Double chain stitch
    • Zigzag stitch
  • Mechanical or electronic sewing machine?

    Sewing machines can be mechanical or electronic.

    Mechanical sewing machines

    These machines have an electric motor but no other electronic components.


    • Inexpensive
    • Easy maintenance


    • Little stitch variety
    • Since their settings are not automatic, the initial setup of the machine can be more complicated and time-consuming.

    Brother electronic sewing machine

    Electronic sewing machines

    These machines have electronic components such as an LCD screen.


    • The settings are automatic, making it easier to get started sewing.
    • They offer greater precision.
    • They can carry out a wider variety of stitches.


    • They are more expensive.
    • They are more fragile.
    • Maintenance is more expensive, and repair costs for components such as the LCD screen are higher.

    However, despite these drawbacks, we advise you to opt for an electronic machine because they are easier to use.

    Advantages of electronic sewing machines:

    • Automatic settings
    • High precision
    • Variety of stitches
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