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If you’re reading this, chances are you’re looking to up your sewing game in a big way. Maybe you even want to go into business and sew full-time.
Whatever the reason, that consumer-grade hobbyist sewing machine you’ve had for a few years just isn’t cutting it any more.
You’ve come to the right place.
Finding an industrial sewing machine can seem like a big jump, but I promise you there’s nothing to worry about. Mostly they’re just more expensive, heavier, sew loads faster, and sew very, very well.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the best industrial sewing machines out there—whatever you’re looking for, I’m sure there will be something here that suits your needs.
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Our Rating: 4.3 / 5
Welcome to the world of industrial sewing machines. In this domain, Juki reigns supreme. The Japanese sewing manufacturer has been one of the best since its inception over 80 years ago.
The Juki DDL-8700 wraps up all that experience and expertise into one straight-stitching under-trimming beast.
I’ve done many reviews and writeups of consumer-level machines. It still always strikes me how wide of a gap there is between casual machines and industrial machines. A lot of these machines mean business in the sewing world. Of course that includes the Juki DDL 8700.
The sewing machine is a pallid grey reminiscent of hospital beds. The throat is quite wide, and the Juki logo peers back at the viewer in blocky blue lettering. This may be a hyper-powerful industrial sewing machine, but it doesn’t feel alien; it is most definitely a sewing machine. A small computer screen control panel juts up from the back of the unit. On first look, it’s honestly hard to tell what might set this thing apart from normal sewing machines.
Non-industrial sewing machines tend to max out at around 1,500 SPM, or stitches per minute. On average, they’ll have maybe about 800 SPM, and beginner machines can go as low as 350 SPM. Sewing speeds affect the speed at which you can sew. Sewing slower will ensure that the beginner/hobbyist—and the machine itself—makes as few mistakes as possible.
The DDL-8700 maxes out at a full 5000SPM. Compared to consumer grade sewing machines, that’s just nuts.
This machine is perfect for speed, that much is made clear by the sewing speed alone. However, This Juki machine comes with a couple additional features to increase speed and productivity—starting with the undertrimmer.
The undertrimmer allows you to cut thread while you sew. Juki has estimated that this feature can knock 20% off the total sewing time, and that can add up to hours very quickly. With a thread cutter you no longer have to worry about pulling your piece out of the machine, cutting the thread, and then further cutting down the thread on both sides of your work. If you’re in the sewing machine industry, you know that thread trimming is a game changer.
The included table with this unit is quite solid and well-made. The legs are steel, and the table’s surface features a ruler integrated right into it. There’s a small pocket on the right-hand side of the unit for housing a needle or two, bobbins, and other odds and ends. It also includes a long plastic drawer on the left side. The sewing machine comes completely assembled and ready to sew, which is remarkable for such a powerful unit!
…are two more indispensible features of this sewing machine. When working with this industrial machine, sewing is made even more smooth. Backtacking is programmable via the CP-18 panel, and this machine has automatic footlift which saves you time by automatically lifting the presser foot (while keeping the needle down) when you take your foot off the pedal. Being able to have the needle return to a fixed location can save precious time.
It’s not essential, but this sewing machine is, pleasantly, relatively quiet. The M92 servo motor whispers along while it runs, and is perfect for use in smaller spaces (like the typical sewing room).
…and speed alone. It unfortunately isn’t as powerful as it is fast. This machine should only be used with light to medium fabrics, and heavier fabrics like leather are a no-go, unfortunately.
I found this a bit surprising since this unit is quite expensive and obviously meant for industrial sewing. I’m sure it will be great on fabric, and not being compatible with leather isn’t personally a dealbreaker. But it could be a dealbreaker for some, so keep that in mind.
The Juki DDL 8700 brings quite a lot to the table. 5000 SPM stitching speed is one of the best in the business. It’s quiet, and comes with a lot of real slick features which save time. This machine is perfect as a sewing experience if you’ve never used an industrial machine before. However, it doesn’t hold up under heavier fabrics like leather, which is a bit of a drag.
Our Rating: 4.3 / 5
Size: 15 x 7.5 x 12 inches
Next up, we’ll take a look at the Juki TL-2000Qi sewing and quilting machine. This machine toes the line between consumer and industrial; it provides a good option for someone looking for an upgrade without breaking the bank.
At first glance, this is an extremely sleek, sexy, and futuristic looking machine. The white plastic body has got the grace and elegance of a spaceship, and the Juki logo is tastefully typed in blue across the top of the machine. It’s got quite a wide throat and extension table, a knob for controlling stitch length, and two thread spool holders sticking up out of the back. Though it’s maybe not the most important thing, I’m overall very impressed with the look of this unit.
Stitching speeds lower than 2000 SPM may seem like small potatoes compared to the heavy duty 5000 of the Juki above, but let me reassure you: 1500 is completely respectable and the very high end of consumer sewing machines.
This unit serves is the best middleground between the hobbyist and the professional. It has its place, and is not trying to compete with the big leagues. 1500 will be enough for absolutely anyone who doesn’t sew as their day job.
Automatic needle threaders are the best feature modern sewing machines have. They have saved sewers worldwide days if not weeks of staring through a tiny needle hole and trying to send thread through. Personally, I couldn’t imagine sewing without a needle threader. Every sewing machine should include one!
The TL-2000Qi runs quietly and with low vibration for a machine of its SPM. The quietness of this machine will make it perfect for home use, and will allow you to forget for just a second that this is a very powerful machine. Contrast this with something like the Singer 4423—that machine means serious business with its ultra fast 1,100 SPM stitching speed. But with that power, the experience is also a shaky one, as the Singer 4423 bounces and vibrates like there’s no tomorrow.
Not only that:
This sewing machine boasts a very wide extension table. The other industrial machines on this list come with their own tables, sure, but maybe you’d like a powerful machine without the table. With industrial machines, sewing can take up quite a bit of space. Don’t get me wrong—having lots of room to manipulate your piece can be liberating. I think you’ll find that for this sewing machine, industrial size tables aren’t really needed.
The TL-2000Qi also has a speed and trimming pedal. You don’t have to shell out over $1500 to experience fast automatic thread trimming. It should be noted that this machine doesn’t come with speed control like the Juki TL 2010Q (not featured on this list).
Other features include LED lights for higher visibility, perfect for illuminating your sewing projects. Stitching quality is high and the max stitch length is the best on the list at a full 6mm. Your projects will benefit from the perfect true drop feed for ease of use. There’s also an extra quilting foot in the box. The unit is about 38 pounds.
Many hobbyist machines come with…
…multiple stitch settings. This machine is straight stitch only, as is our previous more industrial Juki. Contrast that with your average Singer machine, which can have anywhere from six to 600 stitching types.
Here’s the thing:
I still don’t understand why a high-end industrial sewing machine like this only includes one stitch. Maybe it’s because it seeks to do one thing extremely well, and doesn’t want to deal with the complications of adding other types of stitching. Sacrificing variability for power.
The Juki TL-2000Qi is a machine for the leveled-up hobbyist. If you’re not ready to splurge an arm and a leg on a true industrial sewing machine, the TL-2000Qi will offer a healthy medium between the power you’re looking for and perfect in-home usability. This machine contains all the materials and features necessary to sew like the pros.
Our Rating: 4.3 / 5
Size: 15 x 7.5 x 12 inches
On the surface, the Yamata FY-8700 seems like it could be the best industrial sewing machine on the list. Especially considering the price. Like most things that are too good to be true, however, this sewing machine comes with its fair share of setbacks.
On first impression, we have another serious industrial sewing machine. The Yamata FY-8700 is an imposing figure when pictured completely assembled. The table is similar to the Juki DDL-8700 from earlier—it looks to be similar dimensions, and has a long plastic drawer on the left side. The legs look stable. The thread spool holders jutting up out of the back of the table are wide and look like they could hold the perfect amount of thread for larger projects.
This Yamata clocks in at a maximum 5,500 SPM, a stitching speed that’s honestly hard to fathom.
The most intriguing part?
It accomplishes this power at a third of the cost of the DDL-8700 from earlier. I’m wondering, what’s the catch? But for now, this machine could definitely be a solid option for someone wanting to experiment with an industrial sewing machine without selling their soul.
You may remember how the DDL-8700 couldn’t work the best with all materials, specifically thick materials like leather. This Yamata machine will do it all, even leather! However, I’d suggest going a bit easy on the leather, car seat fabric, or upholstery. Though they say this machine can do it, I’m wary of believing such promises due to past experiences.
All in all:
This industrial sewing machine seems almost too good to be true. The power, the materials, the features. It’s all there. But I’m suspecting there’s more than meets the eye with this industrial sewing machine, so let’s take a peek behind the curtain…
The Yamata FY-8700 industrial sewing machine comes with a few pounds of accessories—thread stands, bobbins, a needle here and there (10 needle pack), and oil pan/knee lifting.
As expected, the Yamata does indeed come with a number of issues. The first is that it isn’t assembled and you’ll have to set it up yourself. Personally, I don’t mind DIY and figuring out how to put stuff together.
That being said:
It certainly isn’t for everyone. If DIY without instructions sounds like a headache, then you might not want to hassle with this machine. Or, you could call a technician to set it up for you. This would cost a bit, but definitely would still be worth it in comparison to the DDL-8700.
This is a huge downside for the Yamata industrial sewing machine overall. Automatic thread trimming is a godsend and epic timesaver. This can’t be overstated. It seems like out of all the features out there, this one would be relatively painless to implement. But for whatever reason Yamata decided to leave it and a couple of other features out.
Having to build the thing myself isn’t so bad, but without automatic thread trimming my projects will definitely take a bit longer than usual!
I’m kind of shocked that a machine at this price point could have these stats and features. It’s not 600 stitches per minute (which would be acceptable for a consumer sewing machine), it’s got nearly 6000! Undoubtedly a workhorse machine, Yamata has really outdone themselves.
It’s true, this machine is lacking the ever important automatic thread trimming. If sewing is your full-time job, you might need a machine with that feature since it’s just such a time saver. This Yamata is also a pain in the butt to set up. But, if you can get past those things, you’ve got a high quality industrial sewing machine on your hands for a great price.
Our Rating: 4.3 / 5
Next up, we’ve got another Juki. On the surface, there isn’t too much of a difference between this and the DDL-8700. But taking a closer look, you can tell the devil is in the details.
The Juki DDL-5550 possesses a look somewhere in between the DDL-8700 and the TL-2000Qi. The price is also smack dab in the middle of those two models. If I had to guess right off the bat, I’d imagine we’ve got a Goldilocks situation on our hands—the medium Juki DDL-5550 being just right.
The composition of the body is neither old and clunky nor new and futuristic. It’s squarely somewhere between the two. The sewing machine has a lightness to it, though in reality this is not the case—the unit with included table weighs a whopping 250 pounds.
We’ve got another speedster on our hands. The 5,500 stitches per minute is pretty unreal. The 5550 also boasts a max stitch length of 5mm, which is up from the 4mm of the 8700. It’s a straight stitch machine and uses a single needle.
On the surface these two may look and feel like the same machine. They are indeed quite similar, but have one key difference:
The 8700 is manufactured in China, while the 5550 is manufactured in Japan.
If you’ve been around sewing machines a long time, you know two things: they can be finicky, and manufacturing quality matters. It’s easy to spend more time repairing your sewing machine than actually sewing.
Japan’s reputation for quality manufacturing preceeds them, and they absolutely deliver on the 5550. The ease of use for the 5550 is the best in the business as far as industrial sewing machines go. But enough raving about Japanese manufacturing—let’s take a look at some more of the features.
The 5550 allows you to wind a bobbin while sewing at the same time. When it’s finished winding up, it stops automatically without you having to do anything else.
Here’s the thing:
When you’re zipping along at 5,500 stitches per minute, it doesn’t make sense stopping the workflow to wind a bobbin. Flow is, for me, a huge part of sewing. Losing myself in the fabric and letting my hands move on their own. I like to just keep going. Having to repair the machine, or wind a bobbin, etc. just get in the way of that.
This is an industrial sewing machine; it comes with an industrial servo motor. I would have expected it to be quite loud, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Of all the features, the quietness of the motor might be my favorite. I used to get headaches somewhat frequently that could be set off by loud sewing machines after prolonged use. You could use this sewing machine in the same room as a sleeping baby as far as I’m concerned!
There are some features lacking here that hobbyist sewers may want. It’s a straight-stitch-only machine and doesn’t do zigzag or any of the rest of them. That certainly reduces the scope of possible projects you could complete.
It also comes with just one presser foot, two bobbins, a needle and an extra needle pack as far as accessories go. I’d recommend picking up an extra foot or two and more bobbins.
The 5550 being an industrial sewing machine, it doesn’t come in a pretty box with styrofoam packaging. It comes from a gritty wearhouse in a gritty truck delivered on a gritty pallet. It is heavy, and not easy to move. It could potentially get dirty in the moving process.
You can’t go wrong with this Japan-made industrial sewing machine. The 5,500 stitches per minute will allow you to finish projects at light speed and work with a variety of materials. The independent bobbin winder increases productivity, and the motor purrs like a warm cat on a cold day.
Our Rating: 4.3 / 5
The Singer 191D-30 is a proper workhorse built for heavy fabrics and efficient use. Though it doesn’t have the best SPM on the list, it makes up for it with a very handy knee lifter for lifting the presser foot, and all-around solid construction.
At first glance, the Singer 191D-30 looks quite similar to the other industrial sewing machines on this list. It’s got a table setup, two spools, a long throat, and it seems to be a straight stitch machine as well. Something of a rarity on this industrial sewing machine list, this Singer sewing machine is made for medium to heavy fabrics—materials like leather and denim will be no issue.
Admittedly, this isn’t very high compared to some of the other industrial sewing machines on this list. However, we’ll let Singer get away with it this time. 4,000 stitches per minute is still five times faster than the average consumer sewing machine. You’ll be able to churn out projects with ease on this machine.
The best part?
You’ll be able to get started basically the day that this machine arrives. Minimal setup necessary, apart from a handful of procedural tasks like threading and winding a bobbin or two.
The knee lifter controls the height of the presser foot, raising it and lowering it as you please. This is great for a streamlined sewing experience, where you can lift the presser foot to a max 13mm without getting your hands involved. Not having to manually adjust the presser foot each time you want to add or subtract a layer of fabric can save a ton of sewing time.
This feature is especially useful in conjunction with a machine that’s meant to sew fabric on the thick side. As you add more materials to your projects, you may find yourself needing to adjust the presser foot more often. Being able to do it on-the-fly can be a godsend!
Singer has given us a true all-rounder. It’s not quite as fast as some of the Jukis on this list, but it comes with everything you need to do some good old fashioned single needle straight stitch sewing. The speed control can be a bit lacking as well, and this sewing machine has been known to “jackrabbit” a bit. New sewers be wary!
Singer has a solid industrial sewing machine in the 191D-30. There’s a lot going for this machine, including the knee lifter, sewing speed, and the fact that it comes fully assembled. Singer is also a highly trusted brand and one of the best in the business; it’s hard to go wrong with their sewing machines.
We’ve put together a short buyer’s guide to make your choice easier. First…
Before buying a sewing machine, you’ll need to assess two key things:
Not every sewing machine is going to be able to handle 6 hours of use a day, every day. If you’ve got experienced, nimble fingers, you’ll probably want something fast. Needs will also vary depending on if you’re hemming dresses vs doing heavy quilting. Ask yourself these questions:
Then we move on to…
Once you’ve outlined the questions above, you’ll need to actually choose a machine. We recommend looking loosely at the following categories:
Machine types can be broken down into the categories above. We won’t mention mechanical sewing machines here. Electronic sewing machines are the most basic, while computerized machines often come with a wide variety of stitch settings. Sergers are more powerful machines geared towards heavy use.
Sewing speed determines how fast you can sew. Lower is okay if you work slower, higher is good for those who want to zip through one item and get on to the next.
Sewing machines come with different numbers of stitches or stitch settings. All have different uses for different purposes. Basic needs require less stitches, and complex needs will often require more types of stitch.
Many sewing machines also come with accessories which can be useful. Lastly, price will of course be a factor in any consumer decision.
I’d have to go with the Juki DDL-8700 for this article, but a lot of it really does come down to personal preference. Sewing without the undertrimmer feels, to me, like sewing without my left hand. That being said, all of the machines on this list have something to offer!
Out of the machines on this list, I’d have to say the Singer 191D-30 is the best industrial sewing machine for heavy fabrics. Most of the other ones are made for light to medium fabrics.
Out of all the industrial sewing machines on this list, the Juki TL-2000Qi quilting and sewing machine is the one I would not recommend as a commercial sewing machine. It’s more of a consumer/industrial hybrid. For true workhorses, look to the other sewing machines with 4000+ SPM.
At the end of the day, the prize has got to go to the Juki DDL-8700, almost exclusively for the undertrimmer alone. It’s got 5,000 SPM sewing speed, and a great table for increased working space as well. It’s important to note that the best industrial sewing machine for your particular needs might be a different model—it’s definitely hard to go wrong with just about any of the sewing machines on this list.