Types of sewing machines

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Types of sewing machines

Quick Buying Guide

Before setting out to purchase the sewing machine that best meets your needs, there are specific factors to consider so you don’t eventually throw your money in a deep pitch. Such factors may include the task for which you want to use the machine, frequency of its use, its weight and mode of storage, among others. We will help you make the best option as all the necessary information is provided within.

Mechanical sewing machines

Mechanical sewing machines are scarce and tend to be fundamental models. They offer only a few stitch feature and options. They don’t come with an electronic foot pedal; this makes them a bit difficult to use. They are suitable for occasional use on fabrics whose weight range from light to medium.

Electronic sewing machines

This type has their needles controlled by a motor, thereby affording better switch control, greater needle penetration, jerk-free starting, and constant sewing speed. The engine is operated by the foot pedal giving freedom to your hands to guide the fabric through the feeding mechanism. The machines have dial controls or push button with digital displays to show the selected stitch width and size.

These machines are perfect for an average home sewer. However, if you are a beginner or a novice, or you intend using it for the odd repair, then you will waste your money by acquiring an electric sewing machine which has sewing functions that are complex. Instead, you should get something that is easy to use and at the same time will allow you to do the basics, like mending a hem or inserting a zip.

Computerized sewing machines

These machines use a microprocessor as its controller. The microprocessor also governs programming and memory functions, stitch selection, tension control, and buttonhole formation. They allow you to select stitches or patterns are selected either by:

  • Touch control panel
  • Push buttons and LED indication at the side of the display panel image
  • Digital and numerical selection by push button

Their functions are similar to those of traditional machines including some exciting extras such as memory functions, visual stitch display, mirror-imaging (whose pattern can be reversed or turned over), online downloading of designs, and the ability to elongate patterns. The automatic selection of length, width, and tension simplify stitch selection. They are ideal for more experienced and creative sewer.


These sewing machines will seam, trim, and dark, raw edges (hems and seams) in a single operation. Some even have the flexibility for decorative stitches.

However, they will not replace the conventional machine as they are ideal for basic stitches for seam finishes even on stretch/knit fabrics, decorative flat-lock stitches, and rolled hems. You cannot insert zips and sew on buttons with them.

Things to consider when choosing


This is a small spool, either plastic or metal, for holding together the lower thread. You require two threads to make a stitch. You firstly wind yarn on to the bobbin, and then fit it into the bobbin case located under the needle plate, forming the bottom stitch. The top switch is created by the thread fed from the top spool to the needle. Some machines automatically refill the bobbin.


Most machines come with one or four step buttonholes. Necessary machines allow you to set the control for each step of the buttonhole. However, computerized models will achieve this in one step without turning around the garment through the buttonhole halfway. The size of the buttonhole is programmable into the memory of the machine to get a series of same holes.

Feed dog

These are the metal teeth beneath the needle plate. They feed the fabric through the machine as the needle stitches. You can deactivate it when you have very thick material, or you are working on complicated embroidery stitches.

Knee lifter

It helps you lift the presser foot and get the feed dog dropped with your knee rather than hands.

Lock stitch facility

This provides security to the thread at the beginning and the end of sewing.

Needle plate

The needle plate rests on the sewing bed and covers the bobbin holder and feed dog. It has a hole for the needle passage and ruler markings for even stitching in a straight line.

Presser’s foot

This holds the fabric securely against the feed dog and under the needle.

Sewing Bed

As the central sewing area under the needle and presser foot, it consists of an extension table and a free arm. The free arm is ideal for sewing tubular or small items such as trousers and sleeves. The extension table, on the other hand, is suitable for sewing large items such as curtains.

Spool holder

These are the pins which hold the thread reels that form the top stitch. They are located at the top of the machine.

Stitch selector

These are dials which allow you to choose the length, width, and stitch type which can be pre-set.

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