Sewing Fan

Types of Sewing Machines

Types of Sewing Machines

So, you have decided to buy a sewing machine and don’t know which type to pick up? Read on, my friend – this article will help you learn the basic features of the most popular models and outline the advantages and the disadvantages of each one of them. By the end, you will know for sure what is it you truly need! Let’s start.

Types of Sewing Machines

1. Electric sewing machine (Single Needle Lock Stitch Machine – SNLS)

Electric sewing machine is the most popular type. It has a special motor that drives the needle on top and controls other working parts, such as the bobbin and ‘fed dogs’ – a mechanism that pushes the cloth under the needle.

This motor is driven by your foot – there is a pedal underneath for this purpose. As a rule, the harder you push the pedal, the faster moves the needle.

SNLS’s or electric sewing machines allow you to choose between a limited number of types and sizes of stitches. In order to select them, you’ve got to use a dial – turn it in the way you want to.


  • Electric Sewing Machines are fast and precise (definitely faster and more precise than old-fashioned manual ones);
  • A range of stitch types and sizes to choose from.


  • A limited range of stitch types and sizes;
  • Requires physical movement of your foot that can be tiring.

2. Manual sewing machines (The arm machines)

Manual sewing machines are hard to find nowadays. These have already become quite old-fashioned and been replaced by more modern versions. Anyways, these dinosaurs in the sewing machines history are definitely worth contemplation.

The arm machines are operated by using a handwheel while simultaneously feeding the fabric to the needle. So, you kind of have to use your both hands, which can be quite problematic at times – for example, if you need to sew a lot, your arm might need some rest.

However, despite the inconveniences, these machines still have a practical purpose – they’re quite useful in attaching sleeves or in making complicated circular stitches while attaching some other parts of a garment.

As mentioned earlier, these oldies are hard to find. But if you need one, you can look for it in antique shops or on auction sites. Choose the one that has a standard needle – this way it will be easy for you to find a replacement if you’ll need one. Also, it is preferable to choose a model with a round bobbin – it winds faster.


  • Cool vintage look;
  • Good at complex circular stitches.


  • Slow;
  • Requires constant movement of both of your arms;
  • Hard to find.

3. Overlocker sewing machines (Overlock machines)


Yes, overlocker sewing machines are created for making these types of seams (look at the picture above). These little helpers are able to give over-edge stitches in the quickest way possible.

You need this type of sewing machines to avoid fraying or to get a more professional look of sewed garments. The machine automatically trims the unwanted material and makes a straight smooth line at the edge of what’s being sewed.

Of course, you can use an electric sewing machine for overlock, but you’ll face more difficulties trying to place the material in the right way, choosing the necessary type of stitch, etc.


  • Smooth professionally looking over-edge stitches;
  • Does its job fast.


  • Cannot be used in the conventional way.

4. Computerized sewing machines

Computerized sewing machines are very similar to electric sewing machines, there is just one big exception – they are controlled by a programme!

There is usually a special touchpad that allows you to change the settings – choose stitch, tension, length, width, etc. There are over a hundred types of stitches, so you can be really creative in choosing the ones you need. The more advanced versions of such machines even allow using PC to download new programmes.

The most famous producer of computerized sewing machines is a Japanese brand Janome. This is not an advertisement, it is just that this brand seems to be the only one specialized in the fundamental development of these products.


  • A broad choice of settings;
  • Can be used for embroidery.


  • Quite costly.

5. Bartack sewing machines

Bartack sewing machines are created for making secure bar-tack stitches that are necessary for reinforcing those parts of a garment that are most vulnerable to stress or to additional wear.

The examples of such areas are numerous – buttonholes, belt loops, pockets’ openings and others.

This type of sewing machines proved to be very useful. If you are to become a professional in sewing garments, you might want to acquire one. But if you are an amateur, a conventional sewing machine would be enough!


  • Does its job fast;
  • Makes the most secure stitches.


  • Limited functionality.

These were the most common types of sewing machines. Apart from the mentioned types, there are also machines that serve very limited goals like making button holes, attaching buttons, etc. There is also a special machine type for knitting… but it is a completely different story! Stay tuned.

Sewing Fan

Sewing Fan

This blog is where we share sewing tips and inspiration. We love sewing, making, crafting and exploring our creativity. We are always learning new skills and techniques and would like to share our adventures with you all.

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