What Types of Sewing Machine Are There?

What Types of Sewing Machine Are There?

If you’re on the hunt for a new sewing machine, the sheer number of options at your disposal can seem confusing.

We’ll simplify this for you today by briefly examing the main choices you have when buying a new sewing machine.

Firstly, sewing machines can be broadly divided into whether their intended use is domestic or industrial.

Domestic or Traditional Sewing Machines

Traditional sewing machines are used for making clothing and general craft work.

These machines are ideal for regular projects in the home.

Domestic sewing machines can be sub-divided into 3 main types:

  1. Manual
  2. Electronic
  3. Computerized

Manual Sewing Machines

The most basic, manual machines are great for beginners.

You can really get a feel for sewing at your own pace.

Manual sewing machines have far fewer moving parts than more modern models and are really built to last.

With manuals, you will need to put in a little physical effort.

Electronic Sewing Machines

Advances in technology mean that electronic sewing machines, with the needle powered by a single motor, have become the go-to option for most people looking for a new sewing machine.

Unlike with manual machines, you’ll get an electronic food pedal to ease the working process. This leaves both hands free to handle the material.

These machines happily handle a wide array of fabrics. You’ll also have a broad choice of stitching patterns.

Functionality will vary considerably. Be honest about what you will need from your sewing machine and get the model that works best for you.

Computerized Sewing Machine

For tech-savvy sewers, computerized sewing machines take your crafting to new levels.

You get a touchscreen display rather than manual controls.

Most models will remember your previous projects making things easier for you to focus on the job at hand. Tension can be automatically set and some advanced stitch work carried out.

With USB connectivity, you can hook up your laptop or desktop to your sewing machine. You’ll be able to download and use a vast selection of patterns.

If you are looking to work quickly and accurately on a wide scope of projects, a computerized machine is a smart bet.

Set aside from these all-purpose domestic machines, there is another more specialized option for home or commercial projects.

Overlock/Serger Machine

The overlock sewing machine, also known as a serger is used for finishing garments to a professional standard.

With an overlock machine, you can use 1 to 5 threads and sew 2 pieces of fabric for all your hemming, seaming and edging projects. The knives on this finishing tool will cut your fabric accurately and the enclosed threads will not fray.

With overlocks, you get a great working speed. These machines run at anything up to 9000rpm.

Overlock machines are something that you would buy to complement your regular sewing machine. Their specialized nature and restricted functionality mean that they are no use as an all-purpose machine.

We explore overlock machines in more detail here.


For more heavy-duty and commercial projects, there are several rugged styles of machine available.

Cover Hem Machine

This machine produces a double stitch seam that can stretch.

You can make light work of the hems of a shirt with a cover hem machine.

Hemming with a serger can be done but leaves a rough, deconstructed finish. With a cover hem machine, the simple double stitch performs hemming duties to a professional standard.

Flatbed Sewing Machine

One of the most common types of industrial sewing machine is the flatbed. It also most resembles a domestic machine.

Where the cover hem machine has a narrower focus, a flatbed will cope with most sewing needs. They come into their own for sewing flat pieces of fabric together.

The needle and arm extend to the flat bases on this machine.

Post-Bed Machine

Post-bed sewing machines are used for making bags, shoes, wallets and other leather material.

Whether it’s attaching emblems or working with leather boots, post-bed sewing machines will handle the trickiest project without a hitch.

Cylinder-Bed Machine

Industrial sewing machines are used for sewing tubular parts like trouser legs and sleeves.

This type of machine has a thin column instead of a flat sewing base. Your fabric is passed around and under this column rather than passed over a flat surface as with traditional machines.

The range of diameters available makes this a versatile industrial workhorse.

Check out this handy infographic for a breakdown of some of these various type of sewing machine…

What Types of Sewing Machine Are There?
What Types of Sewing Machine Are There?


If you’re looking for a new sewing machine, this brief guide should leave you clear about the differences between the various options on the market.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries about any aspect of sewing. We’ll get back to you as promptly as we can.

Leave a Reply