A Short Guide to the Heavy Duty Sewing Machine

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Machine sewing is much faster than hand sewing, and this allows for hundreds of stitches to be made in the apparel within a minute, a feat that cannot be accomplished by hand sewing.

Even so, machine sewing uses machines whose performances differ depending on work efficiency, work speed, and the amount of workload that each machine can handle.

The working speed is rated in terms of stitches per minute (SPM) while the ability to create detailed stitch-work is determined by the number of stitches that can be made per inch of fabric, or simply stitches-per-inch (SPI). A high SPI allows the machine to create detailed stitch-work that can surpass exquisite hand sewing.

The heavy-duty computerized sewing machine comes with inbuilt digital asset management (DAM) software that stores stitches and stitch patterns as digital files that can be read by the user (the person using the machine), as well as be stitched into the cloth – after the digital file is processed and translated into mechanical needle movements by the logic head of the machine.

As expected, the needle is a key tool in sewing, and there are different sizes and types of sewing needles, with each type being designed for making a particular stitch, or for working on a specific fabric. Using the wrong type of needle can lead to needle breakage if the needle is unsuitable for the fabric.

Also, using the wrong needle makes sewing difficult and the stitches made are usually of a poor (stitch) quality.

Sewing Needle


The sewing machine needle has 5 parts;

  • the shank,
  • shaft,
  • scarf,
  • eye,
  • and point (tip).

The shank allows the needle to be inserted into the needle-bar of the sewing head, and the shaft gives the needle its tensile strength.

The eye is a smoothly machined hole where the thread is inserted through, while the point pierces the fabric so that the threaded eye can go through the fabric and allow the thread to make a stitch.

Using the right type of needle is quite important when sewing with a heavy-duty sewing machine because this machine is designed to handle high-workloads and deliver high amounts of force through the needle-bar, as well as sew quickly to optimize work output, and withstand lots of mechanical insults (which an improperly fitted – or wrong type of – needle cannot withstand).

Sewing needles are standardized so that they can work across a broad range of sewing machine brands, that is [i.e], if a universal sewing needle works with a Janome sewing machine, it should also be able to sew when fitted into a Brother sewing machine.

The main types of machine sewing needles

sewing-machine-close up

Universal needle

It can be used to sew a woven, knitted, or synthetic fabric. It can use polyester, cotton, or silk threads. Also, it comes in various sizes with the small-sized needle being suitable for sewing lightweight fabric, while the large-sized needle can work on medium-weight and heavyweight fabrics.

Ball-point needle

It has a rounded tip which makes it suitable for working on knitted fabrics, especially the interlock, rib knot, double knit, fleece, and cotton knit. It is best used with cotton, polyester, or cotton-polyester blend threads.

Stretch needle

It features a scarf that allows for the passage of the hook so as to prevent skipped stitches. It is designed to be used with stretch fabrics, especially elasticized synthetic fabric, lycra, spandex, two-way stretch knit, power net, and silk jersey. It is best used with cotton-wrapped polyester thread. It can also work with a simple polyester thread.

Sharp needle

It is designed to be used with quilted cotton fabrics and high-density woven fabrics such as micro-fiber and silk. It has a strong shaft to guard against needle breakage, a round eye, and its tip is a sharp point for easy penetration into layered fabrics.

Top stitch needle

It has a sharper pointed tip than the sharp needle so that it can easily pierce any fabric. It is designed to be used with the thick top-stitching thread.

Quilting needle

It features the same build design and usage profile as the sharp needle, but it has a shorter length.

Jeans needle

It is designed to be used on denim material, as well as densely woven fabrics like canvas, heavy linen, and heavy twill. It has a strong shank and a sharp tip, and works best with polyester, cotton-wrapped polyester, and synthetic threads.

Leather (or chisel-point) needle

It is designed to be used only on genuine leather and suede fabrics.

Metafil needle

It is designed to be used with rayon and metal-blended synthetic threads. It has a large eye and comes with a pontoon scarf featuring an oversized bump.


This is a specialized needle designed to replicate drawn-thread work on materials.

Twin or Triple needles

These are designed for making decorative stitches and for pin tucking. Not every sewing machine can use these needles.

Basics of a Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine

fabric feed sewing machine

The basic sewing machine can make a running stitch, while the specialized model can make a running stitch, lockstitch, and zigzag stitch.

A high-quality heavy-duty model should be able to make specialized stitches such as the lock-stitch and satin stitch in addition to the basic sewing stitches, and these stitches need to be made at a high SPM and high SPI.

The basic sewing machine has 6 key parts:

  • the machine bed,
  • upright arm,
  • horizontal arm,
  • machine head,
  • servo motor,
  • control panel with a display.

The machine bed houses the bobbin case and provides the work area where the fabric to be sewn is placed, while the raised-bed also provides a storage space for storing sewing accessories.

It also holds the upright arm. The upright arm houses the computing device, and the control panel and its display (usually a liquid crystal display [LCD] screen), as well as holds the horizontal arm.

Usually, the horizontal arm holds the thread spools and provides a storage space for placing accessories, while its front panel can feature push buttons that operate the machine.

The horizontal arm also holds the machine head in place. The machine head in a sewing machine is usually described as the sewing head, and it features the logic unit that operates the needle bar that moves the needle up and down at a pre-determined speed that is calculated as the SPM.

This needle bar is operated by the servo motor whose speed measured in terms of revolutions-per-minute (rpm) determines the SPM. The front panel of the sewing head usually features a faceplate that allows one to access the needle bar and its adjacent components.

The heavy-duty sewing machine has these 6 basic parts, but it is the build quality and working speeds that set it apart from the normal sewing machine.

Normally, the heavy-duty machine is made of more durable, heavier, and stronger materials than the normal machine, hence allowing it to handle more sewing work and operate at a higher SPM.

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