Like a lot of car repair and maintenance, you’ll find that re-doing your car’s upholstery is a lot cheaper than taking it to a professional and forking over hundreds of dollars. The task may seem daunting, sure – but isn’t all car maintenance work? Some thorough research and a little practice could have you breathing new life into the cracked leather seating or torn fabric of your vehicle with brand new upholstery – and to make sure it lasts, you need the right sewing machine.
While many insist that industrial is the way to go, opting for a heavy-duty factory grade sewing table for their operations, pick the right portable unit and you may find the functionality suits you – and your pocket – just as well. A good machine should be able to plow through the heaviest and densest of fabric like its tissue, compatible with the bonded polyester or nylon threads needed for tough, durable and ruggedly stitched upholstery, and needles between sizes 18 and 22 typically, depending on the thread you pick. Offering speed, robust performance and incredible longevity, here are our picks for the best sewing machine for auto upholstery.
Consew 206RB-5 Walking Foot Industrial Sewing Machine
When you’re working with thick, heavy fabrics, the extra grip of a walking foot machine, which, simply put, involves the working together of more than one feed to drag and pull the fabric under the needle as you sew, is all but a necessity for sewing dense upholstery. So it’s unsurprising that this feature is one of the things we love about our top pick. The height adjustable walking motion of the triple feed walking foot, however, is just part of what makes this a household and industry favorite.
For starters, whether you’re working with vinyl, leather or other material for upholstery, you’re going to be sewing up large stretches of material at a go – meaning you’re going to need something to hold it all. The sewing table component of this whole unit essentially acts as a workstation not just to hold your rugged workhorse of a sewing machine and the motor that powers it, but also the large fragments of material you’re sewing, which makes a marked difference to how accurate and precise your seams and stitches ultimately are since you get to keep everything even and lined up.
A maximum stitch length of 10mm also makes this the ideal machine to work with a variety of thick material, be it leather, denim or canvas, since heavier materials need longer stitches for secure seams which won’t come apart. The high foot lift gives plenty of clearance (14mm to be exact) for layers of thick materials to be sewn, boasting a maximum speed of 3,300 stitches per minute (SPM).
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
SINGER Heavy Duty Sewing Machine
Don’t be deceived by the unit’s portability and relatively less bulky stature compared to many of the industrial-grade units on this list – it’s been proven to sew through multiple layers of heavy canvas without breaking a sweat and can handle heavy materials from denim to leather like a pro.
The SINGER Heavy Duty 4432 sewing machine is an efficient and powerful machine that can handle heavy-duty sewing tasks. Its metal frame and stainless steel bedplate provide sturdy support, and its powerful motor allows it to sew through heavy fabrics with ease. The machine also features helpful tools such as a built-in needle threader, top drop-in bobbin, and a built-in 1-step buttonhole.
Its speed can go up to 1,100 stitches per minute, and it has a 60% stronger motor than regular sewing machines. The adjustable presser foot pressure control allows for easy sewing of different fabrics, and the machine can create decorative and satin stitches up to 6mm wide. The machine’s versatility enables users to work on various projects, and its free arm design makes it easy to access hard-to-reach areas.
Juki DU-1181 Industrial Top and Bottom Feed Sewing Machine
With a powerful 110V servo motor delivering thorough but quiet performance, this unit boasts speeds of 2,000 stitches per minute. A walking foot machine with top and bottom feed gripping and pulling heavier materials effortlessly under the needle, a maximum stitch length of 9mm makes it ideal for working with thick and medium weight upholstery fabrics, leather or vinyl for secure, strong and durable seams. A single needle machine designed for basic but thorough straight stitching, the unit comes complete with sewing table, motor and other installed accessories, but one feature we’d like to shout out is the sewing light, incredibly helpful when we need to see what we’re doing in stark detail to avoid mistakes.
Industrial Sewing Machine Juki DDL-8100 Lockstitch Servo Motor + Table Stand Cut Juki DDL8700 + LED Lamp+ Commercial Grade
The Juki DDL-8100 Single Needle Lockstitch Industrial Sewing Machine has an Electronic 550-watt Energy Saver and Quiet Running DC Servo Motor. The machine also comes with several accessories, including the 8100e head, Bobbin Winder, Thread Stand, Machine Oil, Instruction Manual, Oil Pan, Knee Lifter, and V Belt. The machine is a single-needle lockstitch with a maximum foot lift of 13mm and a maximum stitch length of 5mm, with a maximum of 6 stitches per inch. The machine requires needles ranging from 9-18 DBX1 (16×231) up to size 19.