For anything from adorable totes and clutches to rugged weather-resistant boat sails, canvas is a tough, durable and versatile material. When it comes to DIY, the plethora of possibility for home décor, accessories and crafts are virtually endless. Because the material is so tough, though, with its considerable weight and closely woven structure, you need to be properly equipped to take on a canvas-based project. From the right needles – many recommend a Jeans needle – so they don’t break when piercing through tight-knit material to a durable machine with the right combination of features to handle canvas, you need to make sure you’ve got the groundwork set before you begin with your project. From delivering the proper clearance to adjustable upper thread tension, here are the home sewing machines up to the task for tackling canvas.
Janome HD3000 Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine
Built to handle anything from satin to denim, leather and canvas, this heavy-duty unit lets you take on the challenges of ambitious DIY projects without needing you to fork out the dough for an expensive and unyielding industrial sewing unit. Featuring 18 preset stitches – including your basic and zigzag stitches – we appreciate the extra high presser foot lift of the machine, giving you the appropriate clearance to work with thicker materials like denim, corduroy and, of course, canvas. Adjustable thread tension control is another crucial feature, since increasing upper tension is necessary for strong, secure seams and to make sure the thread is not so tight that the material gets puckered up, but not so loose that the seams come apart. Foot pressure adjustment also lets you work out the appropriate pressure for different materials, so they don’t slip out when you’re sewing.
A maximum stitch length of 4mm also makes this a perfect fit for sewing canvas, since longer stitches are better suited for thicker fabrics, the adjustable range making it just as usable for shorter stitches with thinner and lighter fabrics as well. In fact, the unit earns extra points for versatility thanks to the accessories included with it, with multiple presser foot attachments ranging from automatic buttonholers to blind hem feet as well as specialised bobbins ideal for working with different fabrics and threads. The top drop-in bobbin system makes inserting and threading your machine quick and simple. Also including a zipper, rolled hem, overedge feet and more, there’s an impressive list of optional accessories to choose from compatible with the machine for specific DIY sewing projects.
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
SINGER 4423 Heavy Duty Model Sewing Machine
Backed by a powerful motor and a rugged heavy-duty metal frame, this budget-friendly sewing machine does not kid around with its versatile repertoire of features. An extra high presser foot lift delivers more clearance for heavier and thicker fabrics, perfect for sewing canvas, an adjustable presser foot pressure control enabling you to work out the different pressure degrees you need to hold your fabric in place without slipping as you sew, a blind tensioner to adjust thread tightness to the appropriate degree.
Three adjustable needle positions are handy to nail perfectly straight seams and proper seam allowance without needing to change up your visual guides, while 23 built-in stitch presets give you plenty of room for experimenting, a dial letting you work out the right stitch length for different materials – shorter for thinner and lighter fabrics, and longer for tougher, heavier materials. The unit also features an impressive sewing speed of 1,100 stitches per minute, letting you get up to professional speeds with a simple, reasonably priced home unit.
The unit packs a number of accessories making this a great multifunctional sewing machine, including automatic buttonholer and button sewing attachments, as well as a zipper foot. A drop-in bobbin system makes it that much simpler to use.
Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 PLUS Walking Foot Sewing Machine
This machine handles heavy fabrics like a complete champ – tried, tested and proven capable of handling up to 10 layers of heavy canvas at a go, this is the machine we’ll direct you to if your needs go beyond simply sewing up a simple tote bag or phone pocket. With an extra wide presser foot and high foot lift for the appropriate clearance for thick fabrics (not just canvas but also denim, leather, sailcloth, upholstery fabrics and more), the unit includes, among other things, V-92 white polyester thread, helpful since plain thread you might use for other projects isn’t going to cut it for thicker materials. Adjustable needle positions are also convenient for getting your seams straight and seam allowances accurate without needing to adjust your visual marks, adjustable upper tension letting you set up the appropriate thread tightness.
While the unit does not come with the range of stitch presets featured by the first two entries of this list, it does feature the basic straight and zigzag stitches quintessential to sewing and, arguably, all you’ll really be needing for long-term sewing projects. In other words, if you’re looking for a no-fuss machine, tend to get overwhelmed and confused by too many choices or don’t see yourself making use of a bunch of presets other than the basics, this unit may be the one for you. Though the priciest option on this list, we feel considering the power the machine packs, as well as the convenience of a heavy-duty, heavy-fabric-compatible, industrial-performance sewing machine packed into a portable home unit, you get immense value for money payoff.
Janome HD1000 Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine
Though smaller than our top pick, this unit does not disappoint. With 14 in-built stitch presets, a 4mm stitch length is perfect for those longer stitches when you’re sewing up a tote bag or accessory, the extra high presser foot offering plenty of clearance to accommodate heavy, thick fabrics. A manual thread tension control lets you adjust the upper tension for proper thread tightness. Packing handy features like an automatic buttonholer and a push-pull bobbin winding system, the unit also comes with accessories like rolled hem and zig-zag feet, also compatible with a huge range of other attachments to fulfil other sewing needs, like blind hem and overedge feet attachments.