The Different Types Of Sewing Machines & What They Do

The world of sewing can be a complex and mysterious world. But it doesn’t have to be, though there might be a lot to take in and learn. There is also a lot of information to help you. Sewing machines can be one of the most complex areas of sewing materials to understand.

With working out how they work to how to look after them and even how to fix them you might feel overwhelmed and confused. If you want to read up more on sewing machines check out my other posts over on my machines and overlockers page.

So since there are so many styles, types, brands and features to understand I thought it would be helpful to start at the bottom of the pyramid and work my way up. That way you can start to learn the real basics of sewing machines and what the differences are between them.

That way you can understand what you might be looking for or already have at home, making you feel more comfortable and confident.

Why Are There So Many Different Types Of Sewing Machine?

There are so many different types of sewing machine because many of them have been updated, made better and are brought out to do different things.

Many standard domestic sewing machines cover a range of stitches and can be quite broad in terms of uses. Some machines such as embroidery machines are made and built to create embroidery designs only. This is why there can be so many different types.

Do I Need All Of The Different Styles Of Sewing Machine?

No. Most definitely not.

The benefit of knowing the different types of sewing machine is so you can work out which one you need for your projects. Many sewing machines can do multiple things and so you don’t need to have one machine to do one single thing.

Many sewists have a standard sewing machine and an overlocker as they both have features that are unique to their machine type. Some may expand and have other types of machines too but as a beginner all you really need is a sewing machine.

The Different Types Of Sewing Machines

With so many different sewing machine brands, models and types on the market it can be really hard to know what to look for. Even if you aren’t a beginner and are looking to upgrade your machine it can be hard to choose what type you want.

Learn More About Heavy Duty Sewing Machines Here

Domestic Model

A domestic sewing machine is a machine that you can buy that is small, portable and easy to use in the space at home. Domestic sewing machines are built to be just that, domestic.

They were designed and made to make sewing at home easier, cheaper and more affordable for more everyday people. These aren’t as tough as their workhorse counterparts the industrial sewing machine.

Industrial Model

The industrial models are more commonly known for used for industry. Such as clothing manufactures, homewares companies and often in theatre costume departments. You can get second-hand ones for your home if you want one but they aren’t necessary.

These are great machines if you are working with thick materials, lots of layers or want to speed up your work.

Hand Operated

Hand operated sewing machines are exactly what you expect them to be. The wheel on the side is the control of the machine making the needle go down and up again.

These are more often seen as vintage and old models now as every new model brought out is powered by electricity.


Treadle sewing machines are still popular especially in countries that have limited electricity or only have access to this type of machine. These are extremely helpful as even without electricity you can still sew on this machine.

Instead of using your hand on the side of the machine, the belt is attached to the base. On the base you operate the movement of the machine by foot. You can get a little tired after a while, though these machines can be hooked up to electricity.

Learn More About Sewing Machine Needles Here


A mechanical sewing machine is a machine that may run on electricity but the stitches are moved by hand. This is what makes the machine mechanical. The nobs, dials and buttons are all to be done by hand with force/movement.


Electronic sewing machines are standard domestic sewing machines but are wired a different way to mechanical machines. These are often found with a LCD display and computer like screen. This will control the stitches, buttons and workings of the machine.

Embroidery Machine

Embroidery machines are a different type of sewing machine to the rest. This is because embroidery machines are built and designed to do one specific thing, embroidery.

Not many will be multiple purposes and all will specialize in just embroidery designs and creations.

Cover Stitch Machine

A cover stitch machine is a unique type of sewing machine as it creates cover stitches. Used primarily on hemming, binding, topstitching and adding decorative stitches.

Long Arm Quilting

Longarm quilting machines are specially used for making patchwork quilts and quilting. They are long arm so they can fit the width and coverage of a quilt into the side space of the sewing machine.

They are built to glide over the fabric and quilt in a seamless fashion. The machines are quite large and take up quite a bit of space in a room but are worth it if you are looking to go into the hobby or make it a business.

Computerized Machine

A computerized sewing machine is an electronic machine base with added abilities to do embroidery and set up programs. These added features will allow the user to create more with the additional programs.

They also come with and LCD display screen, a wide range of stitches, buttonhole stitches, embroidery stitches and so much more. These are probably the best high range sewing machine to have if you are wanting to get a few crafts under your belt.

Chain Stitch Machine

A chain stitch machine creates a chain stitch on the fabric. You can buy two models, one with one needle or another with two needles.

You can also have one thread or two thread to create the chain stitch.

Blind Stitch

This is a specialized sewing machine built to be used in a factory style setting. The blind stitch create blind hems on garments. Which means this machine creates invisible stitches on the fabric.

Mini Sewing Machines

Mini sewing machines are miniature versions of standard domestic sewing machines. They are often very very light, portable and can even fit in a tote bag. They are great for children to learn on and very simple to use.

They aren’t often very good quality and not great for doing much or intense sewing. The type of sewing machine is also good for beginners or people who rarely need the use of a machine. The stitches are very limited and don’t have a range of abilities.

That is everything on the different types of sewing machines. I hope you have found this helpful and useful. If you have a brand of machine you love to use and have a couple of the more specialised sewing machines let me know in the comments below.

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