Industrial sewing machines

Kathy sent me this question:

What equipment do you recommend? Specifically, what type of sewing machine? In one of your entries you mentioned you knew what to look for in a sewing machine. Can I suggest a blog entry that actually spells out your preferences? I’m assuming its some kind of industrial machine. ( Again, if that is already in your archive, my apologies. Please just point me to it. ) Could I even consider using one or would I wind up in the emergency room with my fingers sewn to my forehead?

For several reasons I may not give an adequate answer. I’m posting this question mostly as an invitation to others in our midst who may have better advice for you. My biggest problem in answering this is that I’m easily satisfied; I’m not as machine-picky as people would think. Likewise, I don’t like fixing them either. While I’m well known to do my own plumbing, electrical, carpentry and appliance repair, I don’t like fiddling with cars or sewing machines. When it comes to those two items, I just want to sit down and go. I do have a couple of pointers for people who’ve never owned an industrial machine.


First of all, just forget that image you have in your head of a noisy, loud machine that sews far too fast for you to keep up because those days are long gone! Today’s electronic machines are as quiet as any home machine; I can’t even hear mine running. Second, you can change the speed (stitches per minute) that the machine will sew allowing you to build up speed at your comfort. Third, compared to upper end home sewing machines, industrials are dirt cheap. Even new industrial machines are half the price of those beloved Berninas -an inscrutable value in my opinion. Speaking of fine sewing machines, the upper end of industrial machines are Adlers which is not to say that there are not many other wonderful brands out there! Honestly, when you compare the price of fine industrials to upper end home machines, I don’t know why you’d get the home machine (will you really use all those embroidery stitches-enough to make it worthwhile?). Believe me, once you’ve experienced the quality of pressure available on an industrial machine, you’ll wonder why you didn’t get one years before. Forget pins! You’ll never need them again. That is something you’ll just have to experience to understand (sorry).

You can find my machine by going to Durkopp-Adler, clicking “Products” then select “Standard Sewing Machines” and mine is the fourth one down (model 271-140342). The third one down is fine too but I’d pass on the first two. Not that the first two are bad, just that they don’t have an electronic key pad. Other than electronic controls, you’d want to select a basic “dressmaker” machine with a lockstitch and automatic thread cutter. Many industrial models need compressed air to run and compressors are noisy (just ask Mike C) but these models don’t. The other thing that is great about industrial machines are the attachments. Again, most industrial attachments are half the cost of the home sewing ones and they work ten times better! These attachments are all metal so forget fiddling with dinky little pieces of chintzy plastic. Finally, you can turn real hankerchief hems without worrying and fretting.

Lastly, used machines are an excellent value too. Industrial machines have a longer life and are readily repaired with stock parts available from most suppliers. You’ll have to rely on a dealer to advise you and I’d recommend going to an industrial machine dealer and not the local sewing & vac store that just happens to have one industrial on the floor because I’d be concerned that they wouldn’t know if it really was a good machine much less be able to service the thing.

Okay everybody, feel free to jump in to tell Kathy everything I missed. And while you’re at it, post your preferred machine resources too. Thanks.

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