Before we discuss the various sewing machine types, let’s take a look at their origin. An English inventor Mr. Thomas Saint invented the sewing machine back in 1790. Since then, the sewing machine has gone through a transformation. It has truly revolutionized the way we sew clothes and jump-started the garments industry. From its humble beginnings to the present day hi-tech, self-working, programmable sewing machines the journey has been truly amazing, to say the least. A sewing machine is a household item now and almost every house has one. This speaks volumes of their usefulness. There are various sewing machine types, that perform a variety of functions. You can choose one that best serves your needs. Herein we shall explore all their types and discuss them in brief. So, let’s get going.
Sewing Machine types:
The different types of sewing machines can be put under three broad categories;
- Domestic/ Household sewing machines
- Industrial/commercial sewing machines
- According to usage.
Let’s discuss these three categories below.
Domestic sewing machines:
As the name suggests, these are sewing machines manufactured for household users with low to a high level of expertise. There are some very technologically advanced sewing machines now available in this category as well. But the quantum and complexity of their output nowhere match to that of Industrial sewing machines.
Industrial sewing machines:
Industrial sewing machines are made for purely commercial purposes. They are used in factories, stitching units, etc. that mass-produce garments. They perform a variety of functions and there are specialized sewing machines for specific functions related to stitching and sewing.
We will now discuss the different sewing machine types under both domestic and industrial sewing machine heads.
Sewing machine types according to usage:
By usage, we mean what particular type of function a sewing machine is supposed to do. They can be used both in a domestic and industrial setting. Examples include a lockstitch machine, buttonhole machine, etc.
Domestic sewing machines
The different types of domestic sewing machines are;
Manual sewing machine:
This is the most basic type of domestic sewing machine. In terms of built and design this one is closest to its ancestors. It is operated manually, although manual operation can be replaced by an electric motor. Without the motor, it is operated by a handwheel which has to be turned every time you want the machine to work. Due to this, it is very slow in working and sewing clothes takes a lot of time in it. However, this type of sewing machine is very durable. It has no electric equipment so there is no maintenance and replacement cost. Regular cleaning and oiling would keep it running for a long time. It is also the cheapest sewing machine around.
Mechanical sewing machine:
This one is an advancement on the manual sewing machine. It has a foot pedal operated manually. You can adjust the speed of the machine with your foot. There is an on/off switch as well. You can adjust the dimensions of the stitches by rotating the knobs present on such machines. It is also cheap and suited well for mending ripped clothes and doing simple sewing jobs. It is easy to operate so beginners would find it especially useful. In parts of the world electricity is very expensive or not available at all mechanical and manual sewing machines are still used.
Electronic sewing machine:
A further improvement in the hierarchy of domestic sewing machines is an electronic sewing machine. It also comes with a foot pedal but it is now powered by electricity although you can still use your foot to adjust its speed. They have a more refined and precise result in stitching as compared to the above two. They also have many features that can help us get the type of stitch that we want.
Computerized sewing machine:
A true representative of the modern digital era. This sewing machine is devoid of any dials, knobs, or buttons. Instead, it has an LCD, LED, or touch screen. You can select the function you want using the touch screen options and the machine will do the rest. Its stitching result is more pronounced and refined. Some of the computerized sewing machines can perform embroidery as well. They have the internet as well as USB connectivity too. You can download your favorite patterns and feed them to the machine’s memory. It also remembers your past jobs. You can recall them from their history folder and it will adjust the pattern, tension of the thread, needle according to the previous job. It is more expensive then all the models we have seen so far. It also requires time to get used to its different functions and uses. Who knows in times ahead a sewing machine would be able to reply to you when you call it?
Portable/Mini sewing machine:
They are small easy to carry sewing machines, hence their name. They are also known as handheld sewing machines. They give the appearance of a toy but they are anything but a toy. They perform all the basic functions of a sewing machine. They are very useful if you get to travel a lot. You can also gift them to your young girls who are inclined towards sewing. All in all, a great package and true value for money.
Sewing machines types according to their use
We will now explore different sewing machine types based on their use or functionality. Depending on the expertise of the user all these sewing machines can be used at home too. Their use is not limited to commercial purposes only. With that, let’s get into their types;
As the name makes it clear, these are meant for putting embroidered patterns on your clothes. You can give a new look to your old clothes by using these machines. They have their types according to their features and functions. The modern ones come with many features, like for example, you can download the new designs of embroideries, import them to your sewing machine and start making them.
Overlock machines/Over edging machines or sergers:
These are specialized sewing machines used for hemming, seaming, and edging. They are meant to sew the edges of the cloth and present a neat and professional look. Most overlock machines have cutters inside them that cut the borders while making a perfect seam. They are used in industries and in homes where the user is well versed in the craft of making clothes. They run very fast usually at a speed of 1000-9000 rpm. They use multiple threads, usually 2-9 to create an overcast stitch.
Lockstitch sewing machine:
This is a very common and widely used among different forms of sewing machines. It usually comprises of two threads that must work in tandem to do the stitching job. The combination of two threads adds to the strength of the thread and the stitching thus created looks super fine and very chic.
Buttonhole sewing machine:
It is another very popular sewing machine. It is used to make holes for buttons in your garment. The thread in these machines works in a zig zag that enhances the strength of the thread. Many modern machines now come with this additional feature of making buttonholes. But older machines did not have this facility. Now, with a buttonholer attachment, any machine capable of doing a lockstitch can make a buttonhole.
Button attaching sewing machine:
It also executes one particular task only which here means attaching buttons to the machine. It is rarely used at home unless you want to be a pro at tailoring your clothes.
Twin needle sewing machines:
These are used for embroidery purposes as they have two needles parallel to each other to create beautiful patterns. Besides two needles, they also have two bobbins.
Blind hemming machine:
They are used when you want to create a hem that is not visible to the human eye. At least not very prominent. You cannot achieve this purpose with your regular sewing machine hence this machine comes into play. They have a dial that lets you choose the amount of fabric for the needle to grab on. You can turn the dial left or right to grab more or less fabric. The visibility of the stitch will depend on the amount of fabric the needle will grab.
Chain stitch machine:
Although, now being replaced by lock stitch machines they are still used in some places for embroideries on curtains, upholstery, and bed linen. Its main disadvantage is that any chain stitch that comes out of it can easily unravel if you just pull it. This makes it a little less reliable than say a lockstitch machine.
These are used in jobs that involve some heavy and rough fabrics. Their needles can penetrate the thickest of fabrics. Their products are very durable and last for years. They are also able to perform a variety of functions. Some heavy-duty sewing machine models come with additional features like making buttonholes.
Long-arm quilting sewing machines:
Used for sewing large quilt pieces, this one comes in mechanical and computerized types. The latter can perform quilting automatically with the press of a lever. It can take care of the designs as well.
Cover stitch machines:
You can use it to make cover stitches that include wide-cover stitches, narrow-cover stitches, and tri-cover stitches. They are used for hemming, topstitching, decorative effects, and binding.
Other types of sewing machines based on functionality are
Linking machine: It is used to attach cuffs to knitted fabrics and for trimming fabrics.
Safety stitch machine: Used primarily for safety stitching. A safety stitch is a mixture of a two-thread chain stitch and a three-thread overlock stitch. So basically, safety stitching is edge neatening and seam stitching rolled into one.
Bar tack sewing machine: Does stitching for adding strength to collars, pockets, and hiding the wear and tear of the fabric using the techniques of a whip and zig-zag stitching.
Profile sewer and pocket sewer: For automated and complex sewing jobs.
Industrial sewing machines
Industrial sewing machines are made to perform large scale sewing operations for a long period. They are heavier, larger, and understandably costlier than your average domestic sewing machine. Their parts are of robust quality and material is durable, usually cast Aluminum. They are used in garments manufacturing units. They can be used for a variety of purposes like for example sewing cuffs to a shirt, attaching a waistband to the pants, etc. They are also a lot faster than domestic sewing machines because they have to produce clothes in bulk. Let us now look at the different industrial sewing machine types as follows;
Flat-bed type industrial sewing machine:
As the name suggests the base of this type of sewing machine is flat and vast. It is used to sew large pieces of flat fabrics seamlessly. They look the same as a domestic sewing machine but they are a lot faster and their execution is very precise.
Cylinder-bed type industrial sewing machine:
Just the opposite of flat-bed type, this one has a cylindrical bed as opposed to a flat one. It is usually used to sew where the fabric is cylindrical. A prime example being, cuffs. The diameter of the cylinder ranges between 5-16 cm. When in operation the fabric goes under the cylindrical column and then over it. This makes stitching very easy. It is also used to sew and stitch shoes and saddles.
Post-bed type industrial sewing machine:
They have a raised flat base and a vertical column rising out of the base. The column has bobbins, loopers, and feed dogs attached to it. The height of the column can be anywhere between 10-45 cm. Its specialized shape allows the operator to have more space in making three-dimensional items like gloves, hats, attaching logos and emblems and boots.
Of-the-arm type industrial sewing machine:
This one is admittedly not very common. The operator has to feed the fabric along the axis of a horizontal column. This makes it similar to a cylinder-bed sewing machine. It is also used to sew cuffs and sleeves.
Finally, we can say that there are so many types of sewing machines. What you want to buy depends on your level of expertise and your particular needs. You should study all the features and functions of a particular sewing machine before you want to buy one. You should go for the one that you can handle easily. Be a wise selector. There is no doubt a sewing machine is a very useful tool to have in your home whether you are an expert or just perform an occasional sewing job.